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Learning from Failure

September 27, 2016

I recently went back to an Edutopia article highlighting short videos reminding us that "Failure is an inevitable part of life, but it's often accompanied by shame -- most people do everything in their power to avoid it."  Watching the clips reminded me how inspired we get and how hard it is to fail sometimes.


Why is that?  Expectations, effort, ego.  Sure.  But more than that, failure means letting people down.  When an effort is something we do alone or with a few people, there seems to be less at stake.  But when leading a team, a school or a district, failure seems to mean letting a lot of people down.  


However, the other thing these videos bring to mind - failure breeds success.  (And the more failure breeds more success!)


So why not make it more productive?  Find ways of failing where it does NOT result in letting people down.  This is where professional development wants to operate, but seems to fall short.


Instead, why not use video to lay out scenarios that a leader or groups of leaders could run through - as many times as they want?  The leaders can work in pairs, small groups or in large group discussion to discuss their choices and logic.  


As I watched the videos, I was inspired by the characters and the failures they overcame.  But I do not have those same challenges.  On the other hand, if there are people with stories that do fit challenges I face, then I can learn even more from their experiences.


Turns out, these videos and scenarios are already available and are being used in school districts and universities across the country.  


Check out our Difficult Teacher Conversation about a new teacher who gets high marks from her students, but has some challenges with other teachers.  In the simulation, you will need to decide how you address those concerns and balance them with other issues that have arisen regarding the same teacher.



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