Sharing ideas on Education, Leadership and Life

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Failure is Not an Option or Is It

I originally wrote this for my posterous blog post.

Nobody wants to be a failure and the worst possible grade you could get in our current system is an F which stands for Fail.

It would seem that Failure is not something that we as educators should encourage.However I think we need to redefine what Failure is.

In the movie Apollo 13 when they said “Failure is Not an Option” what that meant is that they must succeed and come up with a solution. However in coming up with that solution they had minor setbacks or failures along the way but they didn’t give up.

I think that we as teachers need to define failure as part of the process that leads to success and that it is not the end of a journey but rather part of a process. Parenthetically that is why I think giving a student a F on something where he shuts down and does nothing go against everything we as teachers want to do. Therefore we need to help, teach, and show our students this new definition of failure.

If we want our students to take risks and push themselves beyond their comfort zone then they are going to fail along the way and we need to teach them that as long as they continue to try,a temporary failure is O.K. and often necessary in order to succeed.

Here are some quotes that I like about failure and believe that they describe and define Failure the way that we as educators need to view it.

“Failure is Success if we learn from it” – Malcom Forbes

“We seem to gain wisdom more readily through our failures than through our successes. We always think of failure as the antithesis of success, but it isn’t. Success often lies on the other side of failure.” Leo F. Buscaglia

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.” Sven Goren Errikson

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” Colin Powell

My Quick Thoughts


Monday, December 6, 2010

A Chanukah Message for All Educators

Today I RT the following tweet “@cleanapple Sir Ken Robinson: "If you work in education, you are in the miracle business."#TIES10 “
This got me thinking that during this time of year when we, Jews, celebrate the Miracle of the Oil and the Menorah that I would post a Chanukah message to educators.

There are many customs on Chanukah but only one mitzvah (commandment) and that is to light the Menorah. Some use olive oil but candles can also be used. There is something that is unique to a flame or a candle and that is no matter how many other wicks or candles it lights it still shines as bright as it did before. The Midrash uses this analogy when it describes Moshe’s (Moses’) feelings when he had to appoint the 70 Elders. The Rabbi’s teach us that even though he gave from himself some of his prophetic powers if you will he was not diminished in any way.

I think the message is clear for educators. No longer does the old model of “do it because I am the teacher” work with our students. We need to share with our students. Someone mentioned during the December Elluminate Session by Connected Principals that they have students teach the teachers about certain things with regard to technology. What a great idea and a great way to get students to be a part of the learning process.

However teachers are afraid to give up control of their classroom. They fear that they will be viewed as being vulnerable. I say the opposite is true. Your students will come to respect you more and having student buy in and engagement will only lead to less “control” issues in the classroom

Let’s remember the analogy of the candle. We need to give up some of our “power” and “control” and empower our students with that power. In the end this will allow our students to shine and we will still be shinning bright.

May we continue to light the way for our students and see the miracles of education daily

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Empowering Words

picture from

Yesterday @amadacdykes blogged about “Empowering” and asked what is your empowering word. This got me thinking. What would I answer .Well my first step was to get a definition for the word empowering.
I found two:

1. Give authority to someone

2. To give somebody a greater sense of confidence or self esteem

Based on these two definitions it is clear to me that we as educators must be able to answer @amadacdykes question with regard to our students.

I am not sure if I have one but here are a few that come to mind based on these definitions

Lifelong learning
Choices- Control over his/her learning
Self- Confidence

These are my “Empowering” words when it comes to my students

Thank you to @amadacdykes for the inspiration for this post.