I was with colleagues the other day planning for a PD day coming up. The questions swirled as we tried to hone in on what we thought our curricular area English teachers needed or wanted to learn about. One idea that popped up was bringing in an assignment or unit that didn't work the way it was conceived to have worked so others could give you feedback on it. I nodded my assent but internally was wondering how transparent we would be with each other? Could we admit failure and ask for help? Could I?
Everyone has heard about failure--it's the latest buzzword. When things don't work out, they are viewed as a learning opportunity rather than a failure. Everyone fails at some point in life. Why not teach kids to embrace it as a chance to learn and grow rather than as failure? As I thought about my colleague's suggestion, I thought of my own failures in the classroom. Then I reminded myself that failures are only failures if I don't revise and learn something from them. Transparent failures--when I'm not afraid for all to see what I'm doing, how I'm doing it and where the failure is.
The more I thought about this, the more self-conscious I became. Was I brave enough to show my shortcomings to colleagues I barely new, had no relationship with, and who may judge it harshly? Would they criticize what I was doing or look at it in disdain, commenting on how much rigor the lesson lacked or how light the work-load was in the class? All these thoughts took me by surprise. And it wasn't a good surprise.
Transparency is good. Failure is good. If we learn from it. So how will I handle the PD day? Very carefully, knowing that exposing myself to critiques is a good thing. If we want to become better teachers, we need to accept and learn from failure as well be transparent in our teaching with both students and teachers alike.This transparency could make a world of difference to us as teachers and it could model lessons for our students to learn from. Transparent failure, it does a body good.