Best lessons from failures

I HATE bombing a class.  The cognitive dissonance between reality and how I like to think of myself as a teacher hurts.

But once my bruised ego has recovered, a pearl usually emerges.  Either a lesson or a new idea.

On Fridays I like to plan something a bit lighter for my classes.  It’s a pleasant way to end the week.  Everyone is tired and not having to think through a rigorous lesson plan helps me.

Sometimes I show a video, or we have ‘Kindergarten Day’ where I bring in milk and cookies and read/talk through a kids’ picture book in French.  Or we might play a game.

For French 8, I chose a video last Friday.  The librarian at our school had sent out a website rich in videos across many contents.  I showed a snippet of one the week before and had planned to view a new clip from the same series with my students and discuss it in French.

I didn’t preview the video and I should have.

It was boring.

I was bored and the kids were bored, but I soldiered on through it.  Their faces and lack of engagement communicated total disinterest.   I don’t blame them. But it was painful to me.

The class ended and another came in and there was no time to reflect until my drive home from school.

How I HATE that feeling of:

  • wasting a class period
  • disappointing my students
  • failing to engage these young people
  • learning that I’m not the ‘great’ teacher that I like to think I am

But the good news is this: with each of these ‘failures’ I’m acquiring the knowledge that out of these crash and burn classes, something good usually emerges.

This time, it wasn’t a new idea, but a renewed sense of commitment to planning quality classes (even on Fridays)  with interesting, comprehensible input.  I don’t want to waste precious few minutes with these students!

So, I’m looking and planning forward to this coming Friday.  I have Kindergarten Day planned and I can’t fail with that.


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