Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Did I Fail?

Teacher Tom's recent post about his snap painting failure made me recall (again) my teaching resolutions for 2010. Especially this one: "I want to fail spectacularly in one activity I offer. I want to try something a little crazy and learn from it." As I think back (and look back through the blog), I discover that I don't think I had a spectacular failure.

I did have a few activities that "failed" in that no one really participated in them. Usually that's because they were engaged elsewhere in the room. But is it really a failure if kids get so engaged in what they are doing that they just don't get around to an activity?

I did have some activities that "failed" when kids took the materials and did something completely different from what I planned. For example, this counting activity became a fortress with jewels that were protected by traps. But is it really a failure if kids explore resources and create something that I never would have imagined myself?

I thought this was a failure when J began using a straw to spread out blobs of paint on the community marble and ball painting. But now this "failure" is beautiful, hanging on the wall of my office.

I did try a couple of "risky" activities that could have become failures but were rousing successes instead. Our large group marble painting seemed on the verge of chaos occasionally but proved to be a wonderful example of teamwork. (Well, someone did get paint on a dress; is that a failure?)

My 5-year-olds used glue guns to make picture frames. What some may see as a risky move became a powerful tool to create wonderful wonky frames. (Well, someone did burn a finger; is that a failure?)

All in all, I guess I failed to fail this year. But we took some "risks" and tried some new things. As I review those resolutions I made for 2010, they seem like good ones. I think I'll keep them for another year. Who knows? Maybe 2011 will be the year of the spectacular failure. And that will be just fine. As Teacher Tom says: "That's how we learn."


  1. The group marble painting is amazing. I read Tom's post too, I appreciate the sharing of challenges and 'failures'. I see kids every day who are afraid to try something new because they are afraid they will fail or the outcome won't be 'just right'. I just want them to try so that they can see what happens and learn from it.

  2. So I guess what we learn as teachers is that failure is in your outlook. Yes, these things may be viewed as failures by someone else. However, those of us that have been trained to really look at things and evaluate (aka reflect) we often find that failures are happy opportunities for new adventures and thinking! So I believe your failures were successes for new avenues of thinking! :D Here's to more in 2011! I hope I have my own failures in 2011!

  3. Darn it, Scott! I know you can fail if you just keep trying! =)

    Great post, my friend.

  4. I'm going to keep trying, Tom. And, if it happens, I'll definitely write about it!

  5. Awww ... you guys are so darn cute :)
    Donna :) :)