Lose The Training Wheels And Embrace Failure

Remember the first time you realized you were riding a bicycle by yourself? Probably not. But what about when you first got to drive solo? Your parents trusted you enough to give you the keys and go out on your own! It was a great feeling. If you’re like most people, you were so scared of messing up that you were nervous and overcautious. Do you ever see the “Student Driver” cars where they put their turn signal on two blocks before turning and check the mirror seven times before changing lanes?

For many of us, teaching was once like that.

For some, it still is.

Fast forward
What happened after a few years? You began to drive like a pro! Some of us pretended to do it the first time and ended up having to call mom to come bring us gas or worse. But eventually, you got to the point where it just became another thing you do. All the advice in the world won’t make you a better cyclist if you don’t go out and fall down a few times.

Hopefully it doesn’t take a series of car wrecks to get you moving, but it does take some humiliating mistakes! I had a friend in high school who ran out of gas at least three times a month for about 8 months. But eventually she figured it out.

I’ve come to realize that the same thing happens with teaching. You can collect all the advice in the world (and you’re clearly here because you are seeking out advice…good for you!). You can go to all of the seminars and take as many classes as you can find. But the true knowledge of teaching comes from just going out there and messing up a time or two or three…or fifty.

I’m on the downhill side of my ninth year, and I am by no means through all of the mistakes I’m going to make. I’ll make at least five this week! I just acknowledge the failure and move on. Dwelling on the past doesn’t help a thing. Ya gotta move forward. You need to actually embrace the failures. Once you start doing that, you’ll begin to focus less on them and then you get to really have fun.

Do you know what happens when you embrace your failures?
You free yourself to take calculated risks.

Do you know what happens when you free yourself to take risks?
You unleash your passion for teaching.

Do you know what happens when you teach passionately?
Kids will fall in love with learning.

And do you know what happens when kids fall in love with learning?
They get excited about coming to your class every day.

The first sign of this is when they are sad that they have a sub. When that happens, you know you’re starting to experience a breakthrough!

About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

1 Comment on Lose The Training Wheels And Embrace Failure

  1. As someone still in school learning to teach, it is both scary and relieving to know that I will mess up a few times when I get into the field. No one is perfect but at times I want to believe I'll be a great teacher and my mistakes will be minimal. I now realize the great teachers are the ones that learn from their mistakes and change what they were doing wrong.

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