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."