Too often, kids (and adults) are taught that failure is something you can’t recover from. Failure is an end game rather than the beginning of a journey. Guys, I am here to tell you that failing is not only inevitable but it’s preferred! In order for our kids to reach their goals, learn new things, and ultimately succeed in life, they are going to fail at some things. Here are some reasons why failing is a good thing.
Failure allows for practice.
When students struggle at something, as difficult it may be, teachers and parents can encourage them to practice developing that skill. The old adage “practice makes perfect” is less accurate than “practice makes permanent”. Students who already excel at a skill early on may be less apt to practice that skill.
Failure helps set goals for improvement.
Goal setting is more difficult after success. In the beginning of a task or skill acquisition, when students may encounter some failures, it’s the perfect opportunity to start setting goals. When discussing goals with your students, talk about SMART goals. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Whether goals are related to recognizing sight words, reading independently, or improving handwriting, SMART goals are a perfect way to combat initial failures.
Failure builds classroom community.
Your students all have different strengths. While some students may struggle with new math skills, others may have difficulty with reading fluency. Some students may excel at art, and some may have an aptitude for sports. Let your students showcase their strengths by helping others who have shown struggles in certain areas. This does not mean that you must group or track students, or even highlight those areas of improvement for some students. Allow the students who are reaching certain standards to share their skills with the whole class or small groups. This builds community and allows students to emerge as leaders. Have each student showcase at least one strength throughout the year.
Failure fosters growth mindset.
There is a difference between fixed mindset and growth mindset. A fixed mindset assumes that whatever skill level a student is at is where they will remain. Failure is an end result in this mindset. Someone with a growth mindset looks at failure as an opportunity to reflect on the opportunities for remediation or growth. A student with a fixed mindset may say, “I am bad at math.” A student with a growth mindset, however, would ask “How can I improve my math skills?” Integrate growth mindset activities in your classroom to help students set goals and improve despite initial failures.
Failure is not a four letter work. It may sound cliche, but it’s important to let our students know that they will usually fail before they sail and that fail just stands for “first attempt in learning”. Your students may be surprised at the reasons why failing is a good thing, but it’s important that we let them know that failure is not an end result but only the beginning of growth.