Climate; Can we try, fail, and still persevere?

Today I am supporting a teacher as she attempts something outside of her comfort zone.  I am very happy to be supporting someone at this point and time in her technology integration endeavors.  It is never easy to step outside of your comfort zone, and she’s making a dash outside of it.  So why is she so nervous?  Why does it make me feel so anxious that she feels destined for things to go wrong?

She designed a SMART notebook lesson herself during a Title 2A session.    She has taken a chance, she is going out on a limb, and not only creating but leading her own SMART presenation with her young learners.  We forget sometimes, what it’s like to dabble in the unknown, but we’ve all been there and with the rate of invention and change in technology, we’ll all be there again for one thing or another.

Do we, as educators, avoid trying something new because we are afraid of failure?  I hope the answer is no, but I am all too aware that without a culture that supports experimentation, change, and ultimately reflection on failures teachers will be paralyzed by fear and trap themselves in a box called It works, therefore I do. 

There is nothing wrong with failure.  We tell our students this all the time and yet, we hold ourselves to a higher standard.  I can’t possibly try this assignment on Google Docs, because the network might go down and then I won’t know what to do.  I really wanted to attempt this review as an interactive powerpoint, but I was worried about the bulb blowing on my LCD projector.  Or worse yet, I can’t try this lesson with technology because I am being observed and don’t want technical issues to affect my observation.

Wow!  We have more excuses not to try something new, than to step off that ledge and soar.  How sad that we allow fear to dictate how we teach.  A healthy dose of fear and nerves is okay, but when you let your fear take the steering wheel and flee the scene, it’s gone way beyond okay.

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

~Andy Warhol

Schools should be a place where adults; educators, aides, administrators, etc.  feel free to experiment with their instructional strategies.  Administrators should applaud teachers for all attempts to be innovative, even when they fail.  Instead of penalizing observations, reflections on how to change the outcome of said experiment are welcomed.

No one has a 100% guarentee when it comes to technology. It works, it doesn’t, it breaks, it runs out of juice.  However stating, “This is why I don’t use technology,” is fueling a climate that extinguishes experimentation.

It’s okay if things don’t work perfectly, that’s life.  Did you have a back up plan? Did you problem solve? Did your students learn from you that it’s not the end of the world when things don’t go right?  If the answer to these questions is yes, than carry on!  Try some more!  And ponder this, if Albert Einstein, Ben Franklin, or Bill Gates had tucked their tails and run after their first failures, where would our society be today?

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About bulldogtechteach

I am a technology integrator serving in a k-1 and a 2-5 elementary building. I firmly believe in the power of technology to engage students and allow them to create and master their learning.
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