Success/Failure and Perspective

As a school administrator I often spend a great deal of time touting our students’ success.  We love to talk about our test scores and student achievement or to extol the challenging nature of our curriculum.  I agree that these are valid measures of student achievement, but they are only one aspect or perspective on learning and growth.  As most adults can attest to, real learning is messy, and often we learn more from our failures than we do from instant success.  This year our schools will focus on helping kids to be resilient and helping parents to keep success in perspective.

The ability to pick yourself up and dust yourself off when you stumble is invaluable.  Failure at some point is inevitable, and we want to ensure that when it happens to our kids they are able to handle it.  That’s why we have to start letting them struggle early on.  We need them to struggle socially and academically.  When things don’t go their way we want them to have the skills to identify alternatives.  Remember, our goal is to raise successful adults, not necessarily successful 13 year olds.  When we continually remove barriers from our kids’ path, we actually do them a disservice.  I fully understand the instinct to go into Papa/Mama Bear mode when we see our children struggle.  However, if you resist that urge you maybe surprised at how resilient your child can be and how well they can problem solve.

Over the course of the year, the staff at HMS and WJHS will be discussing the value of struggle and the importance that mistakes have on learning.  We will be seeking out ways to help students to take appropriate academic and social risks.  We hope to gain your support for this and will enlist you as a partner in this important endeavor.  Ultimately, our failures can lead to our greatest successes.  The below video was shown to teachers during our opening days to kickoff this important conversation.  Remember, you make mistakes… Mistakes don’t make you.

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2 comments on “Success/Failure and Perspective
  1. Cheryl Moran says:

    Hear! Hear! I love this post. I think it goes well beyond school and the classroom–real life lessons. It is important to let children experience productive struggle and failure as youngsters so they can develop the problem solving and coping skills they need in adolescent and adult life. Problem solving is a life long skill that we continuously develop throughout life only through real-life, actual experiences. Not only do parents need to learn this but teachers too. It is in a teacher’s nature to help a child who is struggling. It is the gifted teacher that knows to let a child engage in productive struggle and knows when to provide the appropriate supports rather than just providing the answer.

    • David says:

      Thanks for leaving this comment, Cheryl! Over the course of the year we will be looking for ways to provide kids with ways to struggle in a productive manner. I am excited about this process as I believe it transcends traditional learning.

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