Sunday, September 6, 2015

Teachers Need to Fail

As teachers, we are constantly asked if we are ready/looking forward to going back to work. I usually say that I have "mixed feelings". I mean, of course I like summer and (if the weather would stay nice) I could live with a few more weeks of "free-time"....but I actually love my job. I actually spend a lot of time thinking about my classroom, year-round. And I'm not alone. Just venture to the many education blogs out there...the thousands of teachers on Twitter, learning on their own time...the Staples locations where teachers are spending their own money on the "little things" that make a difference - and I guarantee you will find them.

What September gives us is a new start. A new year to try new things, to tweak old things, to wonder out into the vast world that education is becoming and to take a risk failing. There has been a lot of talk about grit, perseverance, and mind-set over the recent years in education - a discussion hoping to find a solution to the need for change in education, to remedy the apathy we see in our classrooms. I think the answer lies within the system - the system that needs to change, if only in its own mind set. A change to finally believe, that it is okay to fail.

Isn't this what we want our students to learn? We want them to take risks with their learning. To "guess" answers based on what they know, even if it might be wrong. To take a chance on something new, because what is new might just be what they are looking for (even if they don't know it). I do not claim to think that this is a novel idea. I am sure many people have had it before me - in fact there is research to support failure as the backbone of learning. I do not even claim that I am the first person to believe that teachers need to start failing to learn to get students to do the same, I have just realized that this is the easiest way I can express my feelings about what education needs right now.

We need to try new things. We need to start failing. So that we can learn. So that we can truly embrace the 21st century as educators (and learners). So that students will care. So that students will learn to fail, too. So that students will not just come to school to "get knowledge", but will come to school to work on problems, to learn from others, to actually "Forget what you know" and start thinking

It's funny, I initially titled this entry "A New Beginning" and I was going to share how I am going to start my first week of classes - but this is what evolved. Sometimes taking the time to write helps us find some clarity. Maybe it will even spark a discussion that will help evolve my thinking even more. If you would like to participate in this discussion feel free to comment below or to reach out on Twitter.

Have a wonderful 2015-2016 school year! May it be filled with risk, failure, triumph, and laughter!

[The link is to a boys TED talk address about how some of the worlds most influential minds have stopped learning so that they can start thinking. I highly recommend that you watch it, in entirety]

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