Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Failure Isn't Final

At the beginning of the school year, I identified four ways to increase personalized learning in my classroom. My overall goal this year is to empower students to take an active role in their learning.

I planned to increase personal learning through:
  1. Geek out blogs
  2. Personalized learning paths
  3. Passion projects
  4. Wonder day
The school year is halfway done, and I’m so excited to celebrate some success. At the same time, some of my plans haven’t worked out so well. I hesitate to call those moments failure because that seems so final, doesn’t it? And if I’ve learned anything in the last few years of my professional growth, it’s the value of continually learning from both positive risks and unfortunate mistakes. Failure doesn't have to be final.

Last Year’s Successes Are Not Guaranteed...

Perhaps my biggest failure so far this year has been expecting my students to excel in the same ways as my class did last year. As teachers, we comment all the time on the stark differences from one class of learners to another, but for some reason I naively expected my students to display the same maturity and skills as my students last year.

This year we have struggled with remaining on-task and displaying a willingness to try to solve one’s own problems. I’ve been disappointed, and sometimes discouraged. My students have also had the tendency to rush through work to be done rather than focusing on producing their best work. For this reason, I put our blogs on hold. I started using a few new accountability measures to encourage on-task behaviors and hard work for this next quarter, and I plan to use student blogs as a place to publish bigger projects so that students realize published work should be a reflection of our best efforts.

...This Year's Successes Are More Than I Anticipated

If I only measured success based on last year's experience, we would have missed out on some amazing learning. Success this year looks different, but it's still great! My students have amazed me with their deep empathy during our passion projects. They chose to research topics including homelessness, animal cruelty, modern slavery, girls' education, PTSD, and brain injuries. Later they created websites, video games, presentations, care packages, videos, websites, and original art to demonstrate their learning. Their work moves me! They see problems in the world and show genuine concern. I've taught them that their voice matters, and they have what it takes to change our world; they have taught me to stop underestimating their possibilities!

Looking Forward

I will begin implementing personalized learning paths for our gamified blended learning in the next few weeks. I’m fairly confident my students will do well with choosing which resources they will need because during the first half of the year, I provided many opportunities for my students to self-assess their learning progress and choose how much/what kind of support they needed to move forward. I’m anticipating that my students will need help tracking their paths, so I will create a paper path tracker so that my students can easily visualize their learning route.

I’ve planned our Wonder Day for the end of this quarter. I’m looking forward to this experience because my students have had such great success with passion projects! I’d like is to have my students help me plan this day. I think allowing student leadership and voice during the planning stage will increase buy-in and motivation.

Larger Lessons

As an educator, I’ve come to realize the value in all types of lessons. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to teach my students how to embrace failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. It’s what happens sometimes when we take risks. My own failures are great opportunities for me to learn; they are also a chance to model the mindset of perseverance. I took a few minutes at the start of the semester to talk with my students about my failures and what I was going to do about it. I guided them to reflect on their own progress so that they can make changes, set goals, and move forward. I want them to learn that failure isn’t final.

No comments:

Post a Comment