Failure: A Learning Opportunity, Not A Road Block

“It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.” – Ellen DeGeneres

While grading my student’s first iPad projects through Showbie, Katy Perry’s line, “that was such and epic fail,” continued to play in my head on repeat.  My kids bombed their first projects.  At first, I felt very defeated as if I had somehow let my children down.  Then, I realized this should be used as a learning experience.  I had to identify why my kids did not achieve success on their first project.

Taking Notes On iPads

Taking Notes On iPads

Maybe it was because my kids had never used certain apps before.

At Drayton Hall, we focus on skills and not the apps the students use to express their knowledge of a skill.  However, if a student does not know how to use apps effectively, it takes time for them to explore the app and figure out how to make it work.  Students in my class came from five different 3rd grade classes, so their knowledge on how to use apps such as iMovie differs.  (My students spent the majority of their time trying to gain a solid understanding of this app instead of completing a project they recently submitted).

Maybe it was because my kids did not understand the “Facts, Photos, Fun” Rule.

In my classroom students are expected to work on projects using the “Facts, Photos, Fun” Rule.  This means that they have to type all of their text or “facts” before moving on with their work.  Next, they import appropriate photographs or illustrations, and finally they organize their work.

After reviewing these expectations with the group today and reflecting on how the class did as a whole on their previous project, a student came to me and said, “Mrs. Blalock, I understand the facts, photos, fun rule now.  It doesn’t matter how pretty my project is as long as I get my work done.”  Apparently, this ten year old had learned a very valuable lesson.

Taking a photo of a manipulative with her iPad

Taking a photo of a manipulative with her iPad

Maybe it was because my kids have NEVER FAILED before.

I have a class of EXTRAORDINARY overachievers.  I have never had a class like the one I have this year.  They are darling and hardworking.  I have 24 kids that actually care about learning and are extreme over-achievers.  With the personalities they have and their goal for perfection, it is no wonder that teachers in their past would allow extra time to complete work.  So when I said, “Today is your last day for your project, what is done is done,” they didn’t really believe I would make them turn it in.

As adults and as students we must look at failure as an opportunity for growth.  The greatest lessons are those we learn from experiences, and sometimes those experiences are failures.

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