Friday, 2 September 2016

When the verb becomes a noun.

I experienced something new last week. I have always encouraged my students to take risks. If you fail, learn from it, move on, but make sure you take actions so you don't repeat the same mistakes. I've shown my students Famous Failures video, shared Famous Failures posters on my portal page, and always aimed to create a growth mindset culture in my classroom.

But then, last week, I experienced something new! I am currently studying advanced research methods at university. I have always believed that if I work hard, put in the effort, I will learn and achieve. But this was different. I felt completely isolated. Completely lost. Out of my learning zone. I've seen this visual, I've shared this visual but until last week, I had never connected with the visual. 

My learning history-
  • I finished school in Year 10,
  • Attended university at 30.
  • Awarded Dean's academic prize. 
  • Completed Masters in education (focus on primary mathematics)
  • Completed Graduate certificate in gifted ed (COGE). 
Last week, all this meant nothing! I was now in the PANIC ZONE!

I sought help from everyone. I wasn't afraid to ask for assistance, but very few people knew about multiple regression. All those feelings in the panic zone were felt. While the marks aren't worth much, there was that part of me that wanted to learn, to understand, and to not be defeated.

Then I thought about the students. Is this how some feel? I recently read Lucy Clark's, 'Beautiful Failures' and now I have a better understanding. I have taught students with high anxiety in maths. As a teacher, I always wanted to create a classroom that promoted a love for maths. Songs, books, games, technology, anything and everything to change the students attitudes toward maths. Change their attitude and self-perception, and their ability may follow. How many of you have heard a student say, "I'm no good at maths"?

So now, I understand. I get it. This experience generated a rich conversation with my adult children. We discussed the pressure, the expectations, developing resilience, and the teachers, and how they influence the student's self-efficacy. I can't imagine having those feelings day after day, year after year. It's not sympathy but empathy that I have for the students who don't see themselves as more than a grade.

So yes, it's ok to fail but we also have to recognise that failing for too long can leave some without hope. I may not receive a great grade for the multiple regression responses but what I did learn this week was more important. I felt what some students experience on a daily basis. And I didn't like it! 



  1. Thanks for this post, Andrea. Its so insightful. We often glibly gloss over this feeling: FAIL first attempt in learning, but as you show well in this post, it depends on the frequency of failure, the level of challenge, so many things. The Panic Zone is an awful place to be. We need to be so mindful of this. Wonderful post.

  2. Thanks Andrea...I had similar excellence when doing a curse for my masters ...but didn't mage the connection to my students...Thank you for the insight.