I do not embrace failure…

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I do not embrace failure.  I don’t teach grit.  There is no space on my “rubric” for creativity or imagination.

Blog posts go flying across my screen telling me that failure is part of the learning process, get kids to be ok with.  Tweets have been pressing me to give my kids a chance to be more creative.  And then there is grit.  The word is too funny for me to even consider it seriously.

I embrace success.  I embrace doing things first.  I embrace striving to do what no one has done before.  I embrace creating something that will make people want more.  I embrace being awesome. That is my class…those other things are not taught…maybe I am evil and destructive.

They are achieved by giving and letting kids create something they want to make.

When you want to make something you keep trying until you succeed.  You can see the purpose of the final product and persevere through obstacles.  You know the final product will be valuable to someone so you try your best to make it unique and different.

Yes, some….many….most kids come to my class with baggage that prevents this from happening immediately.  So we work through the baggage and remove it.  The come with the desire for success, grit, innovation and imagination is already in them.  I do not have to teach it to them.  I just need to find the barriers to their use and blast them away….slowly.

One key to making this happen is to work alongside your kids.  First, if you don’t want to make the product why would they?  Second, think aloud as you work.  Share that you are having problems and how you are dealing with them.  Share your excitement when you have a great idea.  Third, present your product alongside theirs.  Be a part of the class, and don’t be afraid.  Actually, be afraid, just tell them you are.  Connect fear and success.  They can and do exist side-by-side.  People who say they do not, are arrogant.  When a kid starts something and says I am confused, I don’t know what to do, I am nervous, I am afraid….I always respond in the same way.  “Good, that makes you normal.  I am confused too.  I don’t know where to start,  I am nervous, and I am afraid.  And I will succeed in spite of it.”

My first words out of my mouth on the first day of class are “this will be the most amazing class you have ever been in.”  My last words at the end of the class are “prepare to change the world.”  The world might in fact be the entire earth, it might just be our country, maybe just our town, and most often it is the slice of the world directly around them.  After seeing all the examples and videos and class commercial showcasing student work from past years they come back in the second day expecting to succeed.

Give the kids something destined for the physical or digital garbage can and you will have to find tricks to get them to embrace failure, show grit, and be creative. Give the kids something worth making, and they will want to succeed.

Here is your check list making sure the product they are making does not suck and is worth doing.  Take out your first assessment of the year and see how it does on this check list.

  • It promotes learning, not simply measures it.

  • Grades are not the goal, learning is.

  • Part of the process of living, not a preparation for the future.

  • It’s about the final product, not the amount of material memorized.

  • Students learn more about themselves, than they do about the content.

  • They are personal.  Each is a unique..

  • Students have the power to change, manipulate, and control the final outcome.

  • They are relevant to students today.

  • Contingencies are built in addressing kids’ weaknesses, and their fears.

  • The responsibilities for completion are authentic.

  • Assessment is not destined for the garbage can.

  • Has been looked at through the eyes of a kid.

  • Are not limited to teacher’s strengths
  • Teacher would want to (and has!) complete the assessment.

That is not a complete list.  There is no special number of bullet points you should hit, but it is a place to start when thinking about your assessments and products the kids make in class.

There is one last bullet point I would like to add. assessment should be a “thing.”  Thoughts on paper don’t cut it.  Working for three weeks to learn information so that they can be spit back on a test is pretty depressing–would you want to do that?  Don’t tell me that your worksheets leading up to the test, your multiple choice questions and essay promoted deep thinking. There is some deep thinking that is a waste of time.  What did the kids actually do?  Make?  What did they complete that they were proud of?

If a kid goes running home and excited about sharing their grade I have lost.  They should go running home, running to me, grabbing their friends, not to show them a grade, but to show them a little piece of themselves.  A final product that in which their DNA is interwoven with the content.  They should be proud to show a final product in which they did not just learn content and skills, but a little bit about themselves. When they have the power to do that, they will not need to embrace failure finish, they will embracing success.


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine. We were born to make manifest the glory that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Above edited quote from Marianne Williamson



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