Monday, September 1, 2014

Embracing failure

Principal ponderings...
Nobody likes the F word.  Over the years, failure has certainly been given a bad rap.  Typically in school, we think about there being only one right answer.  But in the real world, failure is a part of life.  In the real world, when something goes wrong, we learn to persevere, to change our thinking, to be more flexible.  When students are taught that there is only one answer and only one way to get to that answer, then they learn to fear failure.  This year, it is our job to teach our students to embrace failure.  
Take a look at this short video clip from Khan Academy that Mrs. Potter found called "You Can Learn Anything":

Isn't this a great message for us to share with our students?  We all had to learn how to talk, learn how to walk, learn a new skill.  And we all failed before we succeeded.  So let's look at it a different way now.  Let's say that we are learning when we fail.  Let's call it brain development instead of failure.  In a book called Save Our Science, the author says, "Scientists fail all the time.  We just brand it differently.  We call it data."

We need to remember that there have been lots of famous failures.  Ever read a John Grisham novel?  Did you know that his first novel was rejected by 16 agents and 12 publishing houses?  When Thomas Edison was a kid, he was told by his teacher that he was too stupid to learn anything.  Maybe that was why he tried 10,000 different materials before he found the right one for the light bulb filament.  Basically, in his mind he learned 9,999 ways that did not work.  He was failing...OR...he was collecting data and learning.  Walt Disney was fired by the editor of a newspaper because he apparently lacked in ideas.  Beethoven's music teacher once told him that he was a hopeless composer.  And you may have heard that Michael Jordan was actually cut from his high school basketball team.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.  Failure needs to be a part of all of our lessons and all of our activities.  Our students are natural risk-takers.  We need to keep encouraging them to take risks; we need to encourage them to go ahead and fail.  When they fail, their brains will grow and they will learn.  And isn't that what we want...learning?!  When we embrace failure, we will help our students grow.

So make sure you are asking your students: "How did you fail today? What did you learn?"

Currently reading:
I have been reading up a storm during the summer weeks.  I definitely had some catching up to do since the first trimester and the last months of school were exhausting times for me!  I just finished reading Water for Elephants.  I actually listened to it in my car; what a great book!  If you have not read this one yet, I highly recommend it as a good personal reading book.
I also just finished reading an MCBA book from several years ago, Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson.  Interesting book about hope and acceptance.  I really loved a lot of the author's ending sentences at the end of each chapter.
I just began reading Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence.  All of the administrative team is reading this book as part of our book study.  I'll let you know my thoughts once I've finished it.  Two picture books that I just read and recommend: Ish and Slugs in Love.
Cute book with slug poems in it!

Peter Reynolds is the author study for this year's Global Read Aloud!

Events this week:
Monday - No School!  Happy Labor Day!
Tuesday - Dianna and Liz will be reviewing cafeteria expectations during 2nd, 3rd, and 4th lunch
Wednesday - Dianna and Liz will be reviewing cafeteria expectations during 1st and K lunch, Staff meeting @3:30 in the library
Friday - Welcome Back Packet paperwork due to classroom teachers

Great things I noticed last week:

  • Students and parents arriving on the first day!
  • Mr. Coronis's class learning the difference between examples and definitions.
  • Mrs. Fournier's 3rd graders introduced themselves using math.
  • Kindergartners survived their first day of school!  (And so did their parents!)
  • Mrs. Fulreader talked with all of the recess blocks.  She worked with the students to review ways to be safe and have fun on the playground.
  • FloRo teachers and SU teachers spent time with Joia getting ready for reader's workshop this year.  Teachers received reader's notebooks that they can use throughout the year.

Check it out:
Here's a great TED talk to get you excited about math!
Here's a picture of your words that describe what learning means to you:

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