The class will share personal failures with one another and what they learned from the failure.
Students will first connect failure to school or extra-curricular activities – for “good” students, it may be a struggle for them to identify any real failures. This is critical to note and make students aware that “not failing” can be a bad thing – make sure you highlight these references and ask students to draw similarities/differences between a failing grade and failing in an activity – they need to recognize the opportunities for growth (or lack of), learning about themselves (or a lack of), feeling confident knowing growth is up to them (or a lack of). Depending on your class make-up, students may be able to identify the power of the “fear of failure” that drives them to poor decisions – avoiding harder classes, cheating to keep grades up, chasing points rather than focusing on the learning.
The school related examples should provide you a segway to identifying real failure is a positive for their growth. In order to broaden the students’ perspectives about failure, have them make a list of all the things in school that DO NOT support this theory (grading practices, class rank, valedictorian, scholarship apps, etc. – hold a discussion about their lists and possibly identify items they want to investigate further.
Set Up: (Level I)
Have students help you define “failure” – get a good perspective from your students – most likely, they will identify many negative situations with failure, but will struggle to identify personal experiences with failure. Ask them why it was difficult to identify failure. Important to have them understand there are many structures in place to help them avoid failure – is this a good thing?
Set Up: (Level II)
Think of two personal failures you are willing to share with the class
- A funny/embarrassing failure that didn’t ruin you (something light hearted to show little failures all the time)
- Then students will share their own
- Then a personal deeper failure you are willing to share with the class
Journal Activity: After the teacher’s first example, encourage the students to write in their journal/notebook/note in their phone/etc. their own personal fails.
Tell students that each story should meet the following criteria:
- It should be a true and accurate account of a personal failure
- The student is not allowed to play the ‘victim’ during any part of the explanation of the failure
- The student must share what they learned from the experience
- The failure should have had some sort of real consequence
Then after their time journaling, offer a time for students to take a turn in front of the class telling of a time they failed.
**Note**Ensure that the classroom is a safe place to share stories of failure and remind students that what is shared in class stays in class.
Ensure that during the telling of the stories, the audience members are quiet and respectful.
Encourage students telling the stories to laugh at situations that might have warranted it. Some of these stories will be funny, some will be serious, and some might be emotional. Set the parameters you feel are best for the personalities and lives of the students sitting in your room.
Closing: Share this quote with students from Elon Musk:
“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”