As a fourth grader I remember my teacher putting me down for not solving long division math problems the same way as she explained. She put me down because I was thinking in a different way. I had "failed" to solve the math concept correctly. I lost all confidence in myself, my math thinking, and my love of learning was lost. From that point on I struggled in math. It wasn't because I wasn't smart, it was because I was scared of making mistakes.
I'm so happy I was able to read and reflect on chapter 5 of Mindsets in the Classroom. It has helped me reflect on my own teaching. I ask myself, "In my classroom, is failure a reward?" I love how Mary Cay Ricci explains, "Failure can be a reward, for it is through failure that we can learn the most." Unlike my 4th grade teacher, I hope all teachers can remember this simple yet important skill.
Later in the chapter Mary Cay Ricci states, "The way we respond to failure depends on our mindset. When we believe intelligence is malleable, then we realize when we make a mistake - when we fail - we need to approach the task differently and/or put more effort into it." This is important for teachers to foster the love of learning in all students no matter their academic level and let them learn from their mistakes or failures because all students will have them.
Our world would be a different place if many important people didn't learn from their failures and keep trying. I wonder what it would be like if Steve Jobs quit after failure? Walt Disney was faced with many obstacles but he kept moving forward because like he said, "Around here, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things because we're curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down paths."
We must teach students how to respond to failure. Teachers must create a classroom environment that welcomes failures. We as educators should teach students that failure is celebrated. Because it's through failure that we become successful. Success doesn't come easily and we must fail first.
Motivation should be given as intrinsic rewards (personal satisfaction). Extrinsic rewards such as prizes, money, and certificates have many flaws. These rewards can extinguish student creativity and foster short-term thinking. Many students stop once they reach a goal or prize. I think of the example of reading in my classroom. Once a child has read their goal for the quarter, they often times think they don't have to read anymore. So how can you use motivation correctly in your classroom to foster life long learning and success?
I'd like you to take a moment to reflect on your own teaching. How will you celebrate failure this next school year? How are you going to keep your students engaged and excited about learning and trying new things?
Thanks for following along with our book study this month. I know I am learning so much from this idea of Mindsets in the Classroom. I can't wait to get back into my 2nd grade classroom and give it a try or perfect what I'm doing already!
-Ashlyn from The Creative Classroom