As much as I enjoy summer and the “time off,” there is usually a twinge of “September” and “the new school year” in the back of my mind. This summer, this is even more in the forefront because of the changes that are ahead for me. Come September, I will be teaching at a new school, École Sage Creek School. ÉSCS is not just a new school for me, it is a new school opening for the first time this fall. It is a phenomenal opportunity, to say the least.
Yesterday, our principal, Marc Poirier (@MarcAPoirier on Twitter) shared the image to the right, which was posted by Tom Loud (@loudlearning on Twitter).
We were asked for our thoughts on the statement. ‘Did we really have to pick one?’ My short response is no. My long response follows. We don’t have to pick one. Nothing in education is truly black or white. It is important that our students experience success, critically important. We gain confidence when we are successful. We are encouraged to keep driving forward when we are successful. At the same time, we need to be aware of falling into the trap of success, where what we do becomes a checklist: task – success – check – move on. When this happens, we lose out on the learning that comes from failing and our response to that failure.
There needs to be a balance between success and failure. When we teach our students to respond to failure, we teach them one of the most important skills, resiliency. Resiliency, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is the “…ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” It is, not only, one’s ability to recover, but also to adapt. The ability to adapt is critical to our students’ success. If a student never struggles, never has to change their plan, never has to ‘try again’, we are doing them a disservice. Our students need to be allowed to struggle. We need to support, give feedback, and help our students learn to attack challenging tasks with creativity and flexibility. If Plan A doesn’t work… Well, we all know how that goes.
We don’t need to steer our students away from success. They still need to learn how to be successful. At the same time, our students also have to learn how to respond when unsuccessful. It’s about balance.