Failure is an option…..

I used to have hanging in my classroom a piece of paper that said “Failure is an option, failure to learn is not an option.”  The purpose of this was to help show to my students that they were allowed to make mistakes and even fail along the way.

We are not perfect creatures and we are allowed to make mistakes.  What is important is that we learn from those mistakes and grow.  I was always worried that my students stressed out too much because in so many classes they are not allowed to make mistakes.  Everything has a grade and if you make a mistake on that worksheet, your grade would suffer.  That seemed wrong to me.  First off, I do not like grading everything, it seems to be a waste of time and I pride myself on being efficient.  Just because I give something a grade does not mean that it has meaning.  But yet we have so many students that are forced into cheating because one bad grade will ruin their chance at a scholarship or will get them in trouble at home.

I remembered my experience as a resident assistant on an honors floor at college.  There were students there that were very successful all throughout their schooling years and many had never failed at anything before.  They would come to college and be challenged, for what may be the first time, and some would fail.  They did not know how to deal with that failure.  They did not know how to view that as a learning opportunity and how that failure could help them become better.

The first time I did a presentation about my Flipped Classroom, I made sure to start with that line.  Of anything that I talked about during that hour, I felt that may have been the most important thing.  I was proud that my classroom was a place that students were allowed to make mistakes.  They were allowed to LEARN!  I make mistakes and I learn from them.  I do not tailspin into despair when I fail, I instead learn and improve the next time.  The big question we have to ask ourselves as teachers is, “is our classroom designed to allow students to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes or does our classroom perpetuate that mentality that one bad assignment/quiz/test can ruin your grade and stop you from learning?”

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