Educators have an opportunity to foster realizations and discoveries through safe connectivity within the classroom. Every day the privilege awaits to pursue intelligent, inspirational conversations with students. Through connection, clarity emerges leading to innovation and change.
Failure is a Reality in Life
However, daily interactions do not always turn out the way one might hope. Students and teachers will face failure. Yes, failure is a reality in life. There will be moments when students will be frustrated as they are gently pushed toward the creative and collaborative processes that might be new to them. Every mistake is an opportunity to grow as they experience exploratory learning that prepares them with 21st-century skills in a rapidly changing world. Grow Through Failure is a mindset that can be nurtured and cultivated to lead students to become critical thinkers, tenacious problem solvers, and empathic collaborators.
Choose to Fail Forward
If failure is inevitable, then equipping students to fail forward knowing an opportunity to grow and learn awaits them becomes even more important. Human nature fosters a desire within us to stay where we are currently at versus jumping toward something new and different. Because innovation requires movement toward new and unpredictable places, safety within a teaching and learning environment allows students to feel supported to take necessary risks.
Strengthen Risk Taking Muscles
Strengthening risk taking muscles is critical as educators seek to develop the empathetic, problem-solving skills in students that are needed to inspire stewardship of ideas to cultivate social change and widespread impact. Since innovation cannot occur without risk and freedom to explore is what inspires creativity, it becomes even more imperative that educators foster safety for students to feel they can Grow Through Failure.
Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.
– Elon Musk (Founder of SpaceX and Tesla)
The Power of the Reframe
Educators can work to establish a safe environment that lowers the barriers of ideation angst, invites discovery, and allows students to then take their own needed risks within a collaborative community. It is not always an easy journey, but one that is worth pursuing. Brain research tells us that teaching students to reframe their failures is a positive step toward improving success, and also is a step toward inviting the needed safety to move forward.
I recently sat down with a high school principal who pulled a student aside to process her recent MAP standardized testing results. The student had not done as well as she had hoped and the principal helped her reframe her failure toward growth. The power of the “reframe” was so inspiring to the student that when offered a second chance to retake it, she scored over 20 percentile points higher.
Courage to Take Action
Where does an educator, who wants to create a safe environment for students to Grow Through Failure, start? Here are some actions that will prove to be helpful:
Lead with empathy and listen deeply
Display transparency and authenticity
Choose compassion once you hear a story
Ask many questions to model curiosity
Put assumptions aside and seek to understand
Have an open mind and embrace exploration
Relate to the human side of an experience
Share learning through collaboration and connection
As educators, let’s take courage and step into action!
Grow Through Failure
A person often learns the most from taking risks and choosing to Grow through Failure. Our response to failure is always a choice. The opportunity awaits to model this for our students and create the safety they deserve in the classroom. When students feel safe, they will take risks to ideate without limits and dream big for maximum impact in a world that is complex and rapidly changing. Imagine a world full of people who have learned to Grow Through Failure.