It drives me crazy when I hear the term "Failure is not an Option." While I can visualize why the term was phrased, it is counter productive in regards to our educational system. As humans, we often fail. I would know. I've been failing my whole life. One of the great things about failure is that provides us with valuable feedback.
I recently read Applying Science of Learning in Education by John Hattie and Gregory Yates. One of the best portions of this writing is the section on "Using Feedback to Promote Learning." After reading this, I came away with 5 reasons why as educators we need to utilize feedback to allow growth from failures:
1. Use praise in the classroom. Just don't use it for effective feedback.
We need to praise students for their efforts, not for great scores and/or grades. Convey effective feedback to students so they will grow. Praise isn't effective feedback. It is important to establish a culture that focuses on effort and growth. Feedback needs to be specific towards a failure.
2. Feedback can influence the effort students make.
When students receive valuable feedback, they can see what their teacher thinks is important in their class. Whether it is the way to write a formula or how to correctly site an reference, students know the importance of an area when the teachers provide feedback for that area.
3. Create a pathway for the vision.
Goals are important for all aspects of learning. Students need to know their goals. Give students effective feedback and many times students will work towards their goal. Without goals, students don't know what they are working towards.
4. Formative feedback is vital.
Think in the terms of practice for a game. Coaches just don't tell players, "You did it wrong! OK, on to the next drill." We correct mistakes and then model the correct method to ensure our players succeed. Same goes in the classroom. Look at formative assessments in the classroom, fix the errors by providing feedback to each student, and demonstrate to the students what is needed for success.
5. Be the GPS for your students
Show students where they are going next. Program the destination and provide the path students need to take. Remember, sometimes students take alternate routes. As long as we get to the same place, growth can still occur. Also remember to explain to students WHY they are following that path to their destination.
Failure is a part of our lives. We need to help our students accept failure, gather feedback from it, and grow from it. Create a learning environment where failure is encouraged so each student can gather feedback and use the feedback to grow. I have always been a big fan of the Ken Blanchard quote, "Failure is feedback and feedback is the breakfast of champions." Allow failure in your organization so your culture can grow and get stronger.