Tag Archives: failure

Sowing the seeds of success

“The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success.”                                         – Paramahansa Yogananda

As spring is beginning all around me (and I am very thankful for that after a harsh winter), I notice a distinct change in myself as well as in students and colleagues. The weather changes, and moods improve. The volume level of students also increases in the hallways, but there is a renewed energy all around. I enjoy this change in season so much.


This is also a time when students can grow tired and stagnant in their learning at school. They see the prospect of a summer vacation, and time can’t seem to go by fast enough.  Engagement can lull, and setbacks happen both with academics and behavior. What can we do about it? The frustration level of staff increases, and we wonder…what happened to these students? Why have things suddenly changed?

Let’s remind both ourselves and our students that failure before success is natural. By this time in the school year, students can feel that they should be past the point of failure. They have been in your classroom for months now and are used to the routine. They may grow weary with anything that is difficult or challenging. This is the moment we need to rise to the occasion. It is a tough time for all, but when we re-energize and bring it to our classrooms and schools, students are rejuvenated as well.

I love the essence of the quote above. Sowing the seeds of success after failure is a skill we want students to develop and take forward into adulthood. But this is a skill we need to help students cultivate. Let’s face it – fighting for success is hard! Giving up is much easier, and some kids are conditioned to do just that. Be candid with your students and tell them failing is not what matters. What matters is that we recover and are better for the experience. Remind students that this process happens time and time again and show them how to turn it into a positive experience. Call to their attention how messy recovery can be and assure them this is normal. Modeling how failure and recovery manifest in our own lives demonstrates that we all need resilience to move forward.

So as we move into a very welcomed spring season, keep your enthusiasm for learning and expectations for success high. The kids need it…and so do you!

Choosing to act

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. -Amelia Earhart

As I watch students work and learn, I pay close attention to the decisions they make. Adolescents need a lot of guidance with decision-making, but cannot be expected to make choices like adults. Meeting our students where they are developmentally and helping them grow will elicit much better results than demanding other behaviors. But teenagers also need space to try out making their own decisions, even if they are not the ones we would make.

Learning is an active process. Our students need to be the ones making the choices and taking action. As an educator, to truly become the guide on the side is difficult – allowing our students opportunities to take risks and fail is not as easy as it sounds. Many times we can predict how things will turn out and want to step in, but the experience can be ruined for our students if we interfere. We have to resist the urge to play superhero and come in to save the day.

This is not to say that we should give up complete control and guidance with our students. But at the moment of failure, we need to behave in the appropriate way. We need to encourage our students to respond themselves. It then becomes an experience of learning, of growth, and of tenacity for the student. So many times failure is seen as the end, but in a  standards based culture of learning, it is just the starting point.

This call to action is not something that our students are used to. It takes practice, encouragement, and patience from the instructor to allow them to find this call. Our kids need to be given the opportunity and sometimes taught how to take action. They have been given extrinsic motivators in their past educational experiences and have no idea how great it feels to be intrinsically motivated.

Once students decide to act, the biggest hurdle has been crossed. They may not choose the course of action we would, but we need to see them out. We need to guide our students to become good decision makers, what an essential life skill! They need to make some poor decisions in the process to learn and grow – this is completely normal and necessary. When they find success on their own, it is so much more than any success we could hand them.