Sharing Failures with Colleagues

Celebrate failures along with successes... and start conversations of how we innovate in those spaces.

Photo of Helene Burks
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As teachers, we spend most of our time in the island that is our classroom... with just ourselves and our students.  I believe that one of the biggest tasks at schools is to unify a school by bridging our classroom experiences and taking down our walls that separate us.  One way that a lot of schools do this is to celebrate classroom successes, which I believe is a great start.  However, that can be an intimidating experience leading to self-doubt, especially if our own failures are freshest on our mind (a trait I find common among many of us as we are ever focused on improvement).  While our successes might be public, our failures are often not.  


I think we need to start with ourselves to truly start embracing failures and fostering a growth mindset.  At each meeting, it would be great to open the space with one or two people sharing out the following:


1. What we tried 

2. What didn't work

3. Celebrate the failure as a group with applause/snaps/etc.

4. Ask for feedback/what others would have done in that space

5. Share what we did and what we are changing moving forward


I think this would be a humanizing start to meetings, breaking the ice, and easing everyone's individual thoughts on their own failures for the day- turning those instead into a bonding experience.  Of course, this would need to happen within an established community of trust, but I also think activities like this help to establish that type of community.  I also think administrators should set the example by leading in sharing failures the first couple of meetings.

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Photo of Elsa
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Hi Helene,

Great post! It reminded me of Mark Carlucci's Fail Wall - "a board in the lunch room where we could share our failures. Let others see we have tried, fail and survived to try again. It can be anonymous. People could be encouraged to share their thoughts on the failures one the board, make suggestions on ways to improve." https://teachersguild.org/challenge/how-might-we-create-rituals-and-routines-that-establish-a-culture-of-innovation-in-our-classrooms-and-schools/ideas/the-fail-wall

You should connect with Mark --> https://teachersguild.org/profiles/carlucm