Tag Archives: Failure

Celebrate Those Mistakes, Darn it!

I made a mistake today at work. I hate making mistakes. It was one of those memorable mistakes that I’ll carry with me until it is fully resolved. I wish I could explain more, but this is not the right forum. In simple terms, I put too much trust in a child who could not handle it.

At my last job, I made a big mistake early on. I prepared a presentation for my boss to deliver to the heads of a major bank but left out 90 or so of the 100+ slides. It was an error in communication. I misunderstood. As I sat by his side in a San Francisco high-rise, I had my first “oh, shit” moment at work. Thankfully, he did not fire me and everyone laughed. I got off easy.

It’s funny. I’m working to reframe how students see mistakes in my classroom. Maybe I should take my own advice. Instead of being embarrassed, I invite students to celebrate their mistakes and explain what they learned from them. Everyone grows in listening to each other. Students that participate are put on our Shout-Out Board for the week, under the heading, “Our most awesome mistakes we learned from!” They love it.

We kicked off this shift with a presentation about growth vs. fixed mindsets, emphasizing that intelligence is not fixed but earned through hard work. Sure some people have to work harder to get to the same place, but everyone is capable– a very powerful message that ties back to the whole idea that we need to praise kids for hard work instead of intelligence, (<– one of my favorite articles on parenting/teaching of all time).

Chart credit Pinterest.

Credit Pinterest.

Some companies are taking a similar approach by celebrating employees’ mistakes at work. Apparently, some pretty darn intelligent people believe that celebrating mistakes fuels innovation, risk-taking, and minimizes the repetition of company-wide mistakes made in the future. For all my business-minded readers out there, I recommend clicking that link.

So, tonight, instead of beating myself up, I wrote this post to celebrate the fact that I am human, I take risks and I make mistakes. The more I think about it, the more I also see that many of the risks I take at school pay off. Without my creative approaches to behavior management, I would not survive my job. While it sucks that I failed this time, I will make better mistakes tomorrow. Mission accomplished, mistake celebrated.

"I will make better mistakes tomorrow." Credit Pinterest. Side note: I'm a big fan of this tattoo positioning, had been thinking about one on my wrist, but like this better I think... Different words, though.

“I will make better mistakes tomorrow.” Credit Pinterest. Side note: I’m a big fan of this tattoo placement… Just saying 😉

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Willingness to Fail & Succeed!

As a new teacher, I feel like I fail in new and exciting ways everyday.  I say exciting because I have to remind myself that failure shows us how to live better.  In fact, since I stopped being afraid of failing, I opened myself up to pursuing endeavors that actually excite me.

Before, it was too demoralizing to think that I might fail at something that I really loved.  I mean, think about it.  You finally go after your dreams, don’t achieve them, and then what?  What are you left with?  I feared that if I lost the dreams, then I’d really hit bottom.

Fortunately, my view of failure magically shifted.  I realized that the people who achieve anything worthwhile, fail, then try again, and again, and again.  So, here I am, “failing” in little ways at teaching and writing on a regular basis, but still doing them both anyway.  In fact, I’d wager that my little failures help me get better everyday.  And, at least now, my dreams are potentially achievable.  I was getting nowhere by protecting them from failure.

This may seem obvious, or repetitive with things I have said before, but it’s a reminder that I have to give myself all of the time.  Even though I also have little successes everyday, it is still the failures that keep me striving to improve.  Why are some of my students still not learning?  Why is that student still so behaviorally challenging? Why does that whole section of my book still feel like it sucks?

Now, here’s the thing, focusing on our failures may seem pessimistic or overly harsh, but I disagree.  As long as we also celebrate our successes, failure is our chance to grow, to take action, and to be amazing!


On this note of eventual success, I want to express my gratitude for two unexpected sources of generosity today:

Out of the blue, my stepdad and mom solicited a donation from O’Bon for a class set of colored pencils, (and, these aren’t just any colored pencils, they’re eco-friendly, durable, and just-plain cute!).  My kind helpers were inspired by a story from my classroom when students received their own packs of crayons, (also thanks to my stepdad).  The kids were so excited that they cheered.  Ever since then, we’ve colored coded EVERYTHING we do and the students are much more engaged in their note-taking, math lessons, and worksheets as a result.  Amazing what a little color and art can do to stimulate the brain!

Thanks Dave, Mom, and O’Bon!

Seriously cool art supplies!  Click here to check out O’Bon’s site!

I don’t know what was in the air today, but a parent also called to offer to buy pizzas for our class lunch party tomorrow.  We’re celebrating the learning growth of students that kicked butt on their spring tests and her daughter was among the highest performers.  Because our school serves a very low-income population, I often have trouble getting basic supplies, (like kleenex and dry erase markers), so the offer for pizza was extra generous!  The parent told me that she was just grateful for how much I’d helped her daughter grow.  This touched my heart and reminded me that even amidst the failures, there are still a lot of successes to celebrate!

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