When the Feeling of Failure Strikes…

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We are about to finish our unit on Earth and Space, and here I am pouring my heart out.  Honestly, I have this ‘failure’ feeling inside me and this feeling is just making me…sad.  I learned that no amount of preparation could make one’s unit a success.  In fact, too much preparation can only lead us possibly blinded as the unit goes along. I knew somewhere along the way that I was stuck with my ideas thinking that ‘this could work, this would work…’ I guess one of the biggest mistakes we could make is being so assured that we ‘know’ the big picture. I should’ve been more observant and reflective along the way, listened more to the students and focused more on the understanding.  Nevertheless, there are things that I would really like to celebrate about the unit.  We integrated different subject areas meaningfully and beautifully, the students were really into their research, and we really saw the students thought hard and worked hard as a unit.

But it wasn’t a perfect unit…sometimes it bothers me how I get stuck with this.

Truly, it is an art to see the glass half full rather than half empty.

The reality is there’s hardly any unit that we can consider ‘perfect’ no matter how hard we try…like there’s hardly any perfect teacher or person or system in this world.  We could only makes things worthwhile.  I know we don’t want to be easily satisfied with our teaching and learning, but we shouldn’t also be drowned with negativity and pressure. It was a good time to remind myself that ‘failures’ are part of the process of being a good teacher, only if I see them as opportunities and not as shortcomings…or end of the world.  It was a good time to remind myself to be humble, to be more reflective and to listen more, especially to my students.  No ego, no ‘best teacher’ awards and no competitions in mind.  It was a good time to be reminded of our motives and our intentions as educators.

“The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.”- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Rather than focusing on making a unit perfect, we need to refocus on what we are really striving for as teachers. Rather than focusing on perfection, we can focus on how we can make the unit successful for our students…or how the students can make the unit successful for themselves.  And I think that success for us teachers can be measured by how fulfilled we feel seeing our students grow during and after the units.  Success can be measured by how happy we are with ourselves and our growth; our capacity to endure, and how we value and act upon what we’ve learned and realized.

Little pep talk and thinking aloud.  And now I’m smiling.  Tomorrow is a new day.

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2 Comments

  1. I wonder about this a lot. How does our planning, or our desires affect student learning. How can we be less selfish as teachers of where we want a unit to go? Does a perfect unit exist? Giving students control is a pretty powerful tool.

    Reply

    1. Yes I agree- choice and voice help students to become self-directed learners. I think we will know if we have done a good job when our students feel inspired and successful…and when student thinking, insights and action happened in the classroom. 🙂

      Reply

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