Posted: October 24, 2016

jeff-high-schoolWhen was a moment that you failed horribly? We all have moments that stand out. I think of my failures like stages–from awkward teen years, learning how to be a professional educator, figuring out how to be a parent, and now trying to do the role of superintendent justice. I cringe when I think about some of those moments, especially ones where I assumed I knew what was going on, but really didn’t have a clue. Case in point–this awkward teen trying to figure out how to be “cool”–even the background fake fire didn’t help! 

The other day I had a chance to listen to one of our students present to the Rotary Club about his educational journey. As he was concluding his remarks he said, “Sometimes things went horribly wrong, but that’s when I learned the most.” Wow! That’s a pretty powerful, hopeful statement for a 17 year old to make. When and how do failures turn into learning moments? What changes a failure into HOPE?

We help failures turn into HOPE through the conditions we create and sustain in our classrooms, on our buses, on the field, in the studio, on the stage, etc. It’s a culture that makes it safe and supports students to take risks, be authentic, and persevere. It’s the same culture we want for our professional learning, because without failure, we can never grow in creative ways. I’ve always loved the spirit of this Edison quote, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” It’s a quote that’s all about HOPE!

Here’s to finding JOY and HOPE in your work this week, and to creating the conditions where students recognize that sometimes the best opportunities to learn are when things go horribly wrong.