Is Failing Worth it? A Student’s Perception

Last week during class, I was working through a Rachel’s Challenge lesson with my students that was all about goal setting. We discussed goals they have set in the past, long term and short term goals they might have now, and the things that constitute a good goal. Then I asked them the following question: Do you agree or disagree – it is better to set lower goals than to risk failure by setting higher goals?

As they discussed in groups, I wandered around the classroom listening to what they were saying, their ideas, and I was honestly quite surprised with what I was hearing. I brought the students back for a class-wide discussion and a large majority of the students agreed that setting a lower goal is better than risking failure. It left me to wonder why.

Our discussion revealed that students believe that failing is a bad thing. Failing makes you realize you are not good at something. The words they used to describe failure were all negative. Why do they believe that failing is always something bad? How can we help students to redefine what failure means to them.

As I was baffled trying to put a positive spin on the word, one student shared this: “But if you fail you can learn from it and try again.” This was exactly the point I was trying to make. Failing is an opportunity to rethink and re-examine what happened, and to attempt to try again. It is an opportunity to learn and grow. We need to help our students understand that when you fail, you don’t give up. You reflect, you learn, and you try again. We need to redefine what it means to fail. It is after all a “first attempt at learning.

What Does Character Education Mean to You?

If you haven’t participated in a twitter chat, it’s a must! I have done two this week and am starting to admit that I am becoming addicted. It is great to connect to other educators and hear about the amazing things that are happening in schools all around the world.

On Monday, I participated in the #cdnedchat which focused this week on character education, one of my passions! We started with defining character education, offered opinions on what it means to us and what it looks like in our school, and shared resources. Here is some of the chat, and the great things that are happening across the country:

I think the major points that I valued from this conversation were:
1) Character education MUST be woven into everything you do. Although some concepts should be explicitly taught, issues constantly come up that allow for discussion to happen. Embrace those times, don’t ignore them.
2) Teachers need to model what character education looks like. It’s one thing to preach it, but if you aren’t acting on it, then what’s the point? Children are more observant then you would know.
3) Develop a school community where all members are involved and can continue to help and develop character within your students. This includes teachers, administrators, board members, parents, and families. Everyone should be a part of the process.

This year, our school has been working with the program, Rachel’s Challenge. Instead of focusing on anti-bullying it embraces pro-kindness. Student’s journal, set goals, and reflect upon the acts of kindness that they observe. It takes the focus away from themselves, and instead gets them to look at the world around them. When they see someone performing a kind act, they write it on a link, and then give it to that person. We been attaching our links together, within our classroom and school, to show that one small act of kindness can create a chain reaction. It has been incredible to observe the differences in our students and school atmosphere.

Here are some of our kindness links attached and displayed in the halls.

Here are some of our kindness links attached and displayed in the halls.

Here are some other great things that I learned educators from around our country are participating in:
Project Thank You
Bucket Fillers
Turning Points – Literacy Program
Me to We, and We Day
Roots of Empathy
Classroom Meetings/Character Circles
Family Game Nights
Digital Citizenship

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite character quotes, and always think about this: How do you want to be remembered?