Sometimes We Fail

I’m Not So Brilliant After All

So in late January, early February, I came up with – what I thought – was a super fun, creative American History lesson. It was sort of a success. I blogged about it in Student Choice. In short, it was a ‘short’ lesson on the reasons for the Revolutionary War. Yeah, here I am in April STILL dealing with this ‘great idea’. See, I’m not so brilliant after all!

The Problem?

There are a few problems that I am encountering. First, and most obvious, it is taking way to long to finish. Initially, I thought a month, month and a half tops. Um, nope. Not so much. At this point, I just want it to be done or stab myself in the eye. Not really sure which option is more feasible at this point. It’s sort of a toss up. The other, more disturbing problem, is that the question sets were designed to get them excited – and hopefully retain – the information. Sadly, they answer the questions and forget the information. Then they have to do the research all over again in order to complete the tasks.

So Now What?

Well, the way I see it, I have three options. Option 1 – stay the course. Keep up with the question sets and tasks. Option 2 – ditch the question sets and focus on the tasks (which are way more fun and higher up on the DOK charts. Option 3 – scrap the whole thing, even though we are only half way through; and move on to the next topic.

Option 1 will definitely require me to stab myself in the eye. Since I’m fond of seeing, and my eyes; this option is out. Option 2 is definitely doable. I can adjust and modify. Roll with the punches, right? Option 3 doesn’t ‘feel right’ at the moment. I’m not really willing to give up on something so easily. I’d rather try a few other options before declaring this a complete failure.

Option 2 It Is!

After discussing that the progress of this project isn’t working for me with the students, we decided Option 2 would be best. This way, they still get to learn in a fun and interesting fashion. We have taken out the boring question sets – which they weren’t retaining the information from anyway. The students seemed happy with the change in plans – half way through. Love how they can adjust.

Lessons Learned

  • While I have one vision as to how things will go, classroom life definitely has the control.
  • My students whizzed through the question sets, thus proving that my questions were too easy and obviously low on the DOK charts.
  • It’s okay to change the lesson/plan/unit/whatever midstream. No one will get hurt; be flexible.
  • Will it push them to finish the tasks any sooner? Probably not. Will I still want to poke my eyes out? Probably – which will lead to further modification as I like my sense of sight.
  • It’s all okay. I tried and the first time out wasn’t a success. If I continue to reflect, and modify, I will find the right balance; the right lesson.

My Advice?

As educators we all fail from time to time. Embrace that failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Most of us like to brag about a great lesson; about our successes. Those are great too as we like to learn from others about what works. We need to start talking about our failures. Why? Failures show the multitude of ways that don’t work, thus leading to the path that does. Because failures show we take risks. They show that we are vulnerable, that we think outside of the box. Failures show that we are learning and growing.

Embrace your failures, and learn from them.

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