Why do I love failure as a teacher?
Oh, let me count the ways!We need them to see that failure is not failing, failure is learning. Click To Tweet
Full transcript below video.
Hey guys it’s Tiffany Ott. I am so excited to be here with you today, I am talking about one of my favorite topics to talk with educators and students about, and that’s failure, and I have to tell you, I love failure. So let me give you all the reasons why, but first, make sure that you subscribe to our channel, like the video and feel free to comment, we love hearing your feedback on everything we send out.
So why do I love failure?
Oh, let me count the ways. Let’s start out with a little time machine back about oh a long time ago when I had just graduated high school, and I was heading off to college. Now I have to tell you things came pretty easily to me and nearly everything that I did that wasn’t athletic. So I got pretty good grades, I got Bs, I never ever studied, I barely did homework, I did well enough on the tests to pull off a B, I was a pretty good art student. I was in the band, I played clarinet better than I should have considering I never practiced, right. So failure isn’t really something that was in my vocabulary, it wasn’t something that I had a lot of experience with, and I was terrible at it, so come freshman year of college, it’s midterm time, right, that time when all of your classes decide let’s give everybody a test, all at once, it’s going to be great, and I was not prepared for how on great it was. I remember it being like the day before half of my big tests, and I’m sitting there freaking out, because I don’t even know where to start, I don’t know how to actually study, I called my mom, I was sobbing, and I said, “Mommy I don’t know how to study, I’ve never studied a day in my life.” So I never had that failure experience to teach me what I needed to know, in order to not fail again.
So she gave me a big rundown of how I study, making notecards, highlighting, this whole list of things she told me that I needed to go do. So I did them, I took the test the next day, it went okay. Thankfully I had the rest of the semester to kind of make up for it, and I eventually figured out how to study, how to manage my time, how to kind of get that all organized, but it didn’t happen until I was 18 years old, guys, and at the point in time our mind is pretty rigid in terms of how we function, how we work, how we think, so the previous 18 years of my life really hadn’t prepared me for what failure felt like and how you move through failure, and so the reason I love failure and the reason I advocate for failure so much for the students sitting in your classroom and for the teachers in the room next door to you, down the hall, yourself, is because it’s only when we fail that we figure out how to fail.
The brain is really a fascinating organ, guys, and there is so much brain science out there that links directly to failure, and how failure is the key to success. Not just a precursor to success, but a key to success. You see the brain learns best when it struggles. The brain doesn’t learn so well when something’s not so hard. It doesn’t learn so well when everything comes easily. It doesn’t develop coping strategies and study skills, it just doesn’t have a need to, so those neural connections just don’t form.
Our brain is kind of like a muscle. When we work it out, it gets stronger, and when you work it out well, you’re going to fail sometimes. So for me, failure is something that we need to embrace with just wide open arms. Not only for ourselves, so that we can be a model for our students, but for our students.
We need them to see that failure is not failing, failure is learning, and so if you can start to think about how you can change the language you’ve used with your students, how you can change the internal dialogue you have within yourself, to reframe the way you think about failure, to reframe the way you talk about failure with your students, as a stepping stone towards success, you can start shifting those mindsets and seeing some amazing, incredible progress in your students. You can challenge them towards failure when they’re young. Give them material that’s appropriately hard for them, when they’re young and their brains are flexible and malleable, so that when they become freshmen in college and, you know, come up against midterms for the first time, they actually have the skills they need to understand how to struggle through a challenge. So this was a big Tiffany sitting up on a soap box telling you how much I love failure, but I just want you to share the word, spread the word, tell everybody how important it is that we see failure as a stepping stone, and not a wall. So, I’d love to hear stories of how you have failed, how you have gotten beyond this fear of failure and moved on into embracing failure as the first step for learning.
So either in the comments here on the YouTube video, or if you want to send me a message on Twitter, send me an email at Tiffany@thegridmethod.com, however you want to share your story with me, I’d love to hear your own story or failure and how you have grown through failure. Thanks for watching guys.