Embrace Failure - Share & Tell Stories of Failure Heroes

It is NOT Reframing Failure - It is Embracing FAILURE - Let's NOT sugar coat it.

Photo of Niranjan Vasireddy

Written by

Updated Sep 11th - Updating this with the latest HOH Guide version for all to evaluate the final results. 

Idea: Celebrate - "Heroes of Hope" - Stories That Inspire

Create a new routine for children to learn from the wisdom of "Heroes of Hope".

With a moral of "Winners Never Quit and Quitters Never Win", Heroes of Hope are stories of people both known and unknown everyday celebrities that get students to embrace failure as a part of their life's journey that leads to success. These are real life stories that are meant to inspire our kids as they take on the journey of life and remind them to keep their eyes on the prize.

Potential For Impact:

    Children embrace failure as a part of success.

    Children grow up as more confident global citizens.

    They are inspired by the stories of everyday heroes and strive to become one themselves.

    Children start to recognize the importance of the act of trying.

    Schools become a place where students are taught to never quit.

    Builds community strength. Schools become platforms that bring the community closer to its everyday heroes and in turn have them inspire the children within.

    Schools start to play a key role in community knowledge transfer, that has not happened in ages.

    Schools now become a venue for people to give back by sharing experiential knowledge.

Value Proposition / Pitch:

    Teachers: Ever wondered if you could educate your student with the skills beyond the text books and not have to put in much of effort into the delivery? What if you could have a class, where all you do is facilitate and yet be able to give children the inspiration of a lifetime. Would you be interested in giving your students that ability to learn from the heroes of the community? Would you like for your children to develop the habit of succeeding by never giving up and learn from failure?

    Principals: Have you dreamt of your school being the cornerstone of the community, producing some of the finest individuals in the society? Would you like a way to way to get your children trained in life skills by some of the best in the community with almost zero investment? Would you like for your school to become a platform that brings the community closer to its everyday heroes and in turn have them inspire your children? Wondered how to foster new inspiring learning experiences, and cultivate the habit of persistence in life, without having to change your curriculum or pedagogy?

    Guardians/Parents: Concerned that the curriculum does not provide the inspiration for innovation or skills to succeed in life? Would you like for your children to be inspired by the true stories of everyday local heroes, from fire fighters to local doctors? Ever imagined that by just sharing yours or your parents/friends/relatives story, you could not only give back to the society but also inspire your children? Would you like for your children to be trained by the best heroes of today to become the best heroes of tomorrow?

    Mentors/Volunteers: Has it ever occurred to you that by sharing your life's experiences with children and schools, you could be doing the society a great favour? That your untold story could lay the foundation to a great individual who could be inspired to change the community one day?

How would I get this idea off the ground?

    Build upon the excitement & joy that you are going to have a new weekly/biweekly storytelling session on heroes that the children are going to help find.

    Have children take the "My Failure to Success Story Forms" and have someone in the community fill it out.

    Host an event for parents/guardians / mentors/volunteers to come down and share their own or other Heroes of hope stories.

    Define what 21st century learning skills you would like for the stories to cover and choose / seek stories in that topic.

How you can get started: TOLR

TOLR - Try >> Observe >> Learn / Improve >> Repeat

TOLR (Spelled Taller) is meant to have all the participants grow taller intellectually. The entire process is split into various phases to help the facilitator. This process is not set in stone and please do not be intimidated by the various phases. When you read them they are actually very simple and are based on simple sense.

As we use the TOLR process, we would love to get your feedback so we can learn/ improve the system based on what you as a teacher observe and share while you try it out.

Let the Journey Begin --

TRY - Phase I

    Download the Heroes of Hope (HoH) Kit.

What the kit contains:

    • HoH Poster - TBD
    • School Specific - HoH Master List - Elementary, Middle and High School. - (WIP)
    • My Failure to Success Story Forms
    • HoH chart
    • Thought Provocation Cards - Story Response Starter Cards
    • HoH Feedback Post-It's for students (Not Included)
    • HoH Feedback Map
    • HOH Session Planner Guide Template
    • Teacher Feedback Forms
    • Choose a Topic - See the HoH Master List for help with choosing the topic.
    • Conduct a HoH Session on sharing these inspiring heroic stories with your students.

    My Failure to Success Story Form - Get students to collect community HoH data by reaching out to parents/ caretakers who are willing to share their stories.

    Use HoH Chart to stick the HoH Data collected in the previous step or use any of the stories from HoH Master List to create your own Hero story and stick them here.

    Plan HoH sessions with outsiders using the session planner from the kit. The session planner is a format that can be modified to suit your need.


    Class Participation - Observe how students are participating and being inspired from the stories.

    Use Thought Provocation Cards to get students to start thinking and develop critical thinking skills

    Use HoH Feedback Post it for Students to get feedback from the children on what they thought about the stories and what kind of stories they want to hear next.

    o Pink - Love/Emotion - What I felt in my heart. What touched me.

    o Blue - Wisdom - What I learned from the story.

    o Yellow - Joy, Happiness, Inspiration - What made me happy, What inspired me

    o Green - Growth - All other things that do not fit into the above categories.


    Use HoH Feedback Map or create your own and get students to stick all their feedback post-its. Use this to show and share with the class how each one us thinks differently.

    Contribute Back by creating a Google slide of your class and community HoH Story, so people who are not going to your school or who do not have HoH program in their school could benefit from this initiative.

    Use Teacher Feedback Forms to send in your feedback so we can together make HoH grow TOLR.

Repeat - Phase IV

    Have fun doing this! ! ! A HUGE Thank you!!! for inspiring your students to become better global citizens.

Materials Needed:

    • Your own classroom
    • Print the 1 copy of the toolkit for your class- you may need to go to the local print shop for printing posters.
    • Reprint the My Failure to Success Story Forms - Quantity = __ Class Strength
    • Post It Notes. Pink, Yellow, Blue & Green
    • Sharpies or pencils for filling the forms and post-it's.


Updated 28th Aug - Team, I have uploadedHOH Guide, (Going forward, this will be the latest version of evolution of Heroes of Hope idea). The HoH Guide describes the process in detail so it can be implemented in any school. Feel free to edit/ comment and let me know your thoughts.

I have also created a HoH Toolkit and placed all the files there. The toolkit contains the following

    HoH Poster - (TBD - Can be done after the final selection)

    School Specific - HoH Master List - Elementary, Middle and High School. - (Uploaded / WIP)

    My Failure to Success Story Forms (Uploaded & Ready for Review)

    HoH chart (Uploaded & Ready for Review)

    Thought Provocation Cards - Story Response Starter Cards (Uploaded & Ready for Review)

    HoH Feedback Post-It's for students (Not Included)

    HoH Feedback Map (Uploaded & Ready for Review)

    HOH Session Planner Guide Template (Uploaded & Ready for Review)

    Teacher Feedback Forms (Uploaded & Ready for Review)

Updated - 25th Aug - Added a template for students to go out to the community and get people to fill out "My Failure to Success Story". All these stories would further go on to a wall as a poster - "Heroes Of Hope" for the month. The class teacher can choose a theme for the month and invite respective people to come down and share their story in person if possible.

Original Idea - Draft

When we have an A-List of Famous Failure Heroes - Then shouldn't we be glorifying them? - Isn't this the REAL Life Truth?

Why should we sugar coat failure? Why do we have the urge to reframe it? In my opinion it is not failing forward or failure being the road to success. As Henry Ford so eloquently said - "Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently."

I believe that the best way to embrace failure is to share and tell stories about failure. The moment we as responsible adults accept it can we expect our children to follow suite. 

Simple Solution:

1. Share and Tell stories about Famous Failure Heroes - I mean the A-List (Thomas Edison, Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, JK Rowling, etc.)

2. Share and Tell stories failure stories of parents / grandparents (Of the same class - No need to look beyond)- This I think is the best reality check.

Yes we as adults feel that telling stories about our failures project ourselves as may be weak and some even fear that children question our authority, but I have seen the other thing as a result of this. 

As a part of my job, I get to design many exhibits for KiDiHOU Children's Museum. My 6yr old son Sid gets to see me in various phases as a part of their meet their dad at work. One day my son was involved in helping as build a structure with tires. After we put the structure together as a team working together for 3 hrs, He got onto to the structure to test it out. He is my Guinea pig, my trusted tester and my new and spontaneous teacher. For the record, he is the one who volunteers and because he does I make sure to try to always build a safe structure.  After all I can't think like a kid and I am always surprised with the way he interacts with any exhibit that I build. Sid found that the structure was not strong enough at one point and as a result we now had to take the entire thing apart due to the strength of the tire that we had missed to factor in. We both returned home bumped about the fact that we had to take it down the next day. As we were having our dinner, I was now busy thinking of a new design to make the structure better. All of a sudden, Sid, my son looks at me and says in a very excited voice, " Dad, wasn't it good that we found the issue so early. I think, had we not tested it and we put it on the floor, someone could have got hurt. But I think now we can now fix it and make it sturdy." 

What my job has allowed me to show my kids is the ability to embrace failure. Though we talk about it, he still has the urge to scream and get frustrated when he fails as a part of his Pokeman Wii game. Though he fails he is determined to make it though to the next level till he succeeds. 

I think we need to as a society accept failure, as being an integral part of learning. Just as the Wii game did not penalize my son for his failure but encouraged him in getting better, we need make failure a part of learning and embrace it. We need to embrace Failure as teachers, parents and as society and give it the right status it deserves - A pedestal higher if not equal to success. 

Thanks to Dan for probing no just HMW create some conversations with children. 

- Added Failure Response Starter Cards to be used by Teacher/Coaches for sparking some thinking from kids.

Evaluation results

6 evaluations so far

1. Potential for Impact: Imagine this solution had near perfect implementation. To what extent would this solution bring about a culture of innovation within a school or classroom?

A lot! This solution would greatly bring about a culture of innovation in schools or classrooms. - 50%

Somewhat. This solution would somewhat bring about a culture of innovation in schools or classrooms. - 50%

Not much. This solution might help with other things, but I don't see it really bringing about a culture of innovation within schools or classrooms. - 0%

2. Feasibility and Fit: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: If this solution were available to me right now, I would be able to use it with relatively low investment. (i.e. money, time, or skills).

Strongly agree (this solution strongly aligns to my/my school's current capacities). - 16.7%

Agree. - 33.3%

Neutral. - 50%

Disagree. - 0%

Strongly disagree (this solution would take a big lift in resources to pull off). - 0%

3. Adaptability: I could imagine this solution working well in a variety of school and classroom contexts across a diverse set of needs.

Absolutely! I could see this working for a variety of schools and classrooms with different or unique needs. - 50%

Somewhat. I could see this working for many schools and classrooms, but it might need some adjusting to fit a broad diversity of contexts. - 50%

Not a lot. This seems like it might be better suited to only a few contexts. - 0%

4. Scalability: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: This idea could be adopted by an ever-growing number of teachers or students without requiring significant changes.

Strongly agree (this solution could easily scale without any significant changes). - 16.7%

Agree. - 50%

Neutral. - 16.7%

Disagree. - 16.7%

Strongly disagree (this solution would require significant changes in order to properly scale). - 0%

5. Desirability: Do you wish this solution were available to you right now?

1 - Not a lot. There's not a big need for this right now and/or we use something already that fulfills a similar purpose in my school or classroom. - 0%

2 - 16.7%

3 - 16.7%

4 - 50%

5 - A lot! There's nothing like this already and I'd love to have it in my school or classroom. - 16.7%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Dan Ryder

Also, really loving the color coded feedback that kids can use. I could see this scaling into all sorts of different contexts for feedback and discussion.

Photo of Niranjan Vasireddy

What might be just some of the places, you could see this be used in the classroom / school?

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