At Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township in Indiana, professional development (PD) for teachers in its virtual high school and blended learning programs is personalized and popular. Though it now boasts a 90% volunteer participation rate, teachers didn’t immediately jump at the chance to do more PD, according to The Hechinger Report. Two years ago, teacher participation was only 35%.
Eaton pulled off the transformation by regrouping and highlighting what wasn't working — she gathered the 60 teachers and simply asked them what they would like to see and what needed to change. Eventually, participation skyrocketed after she implemented the teachers’ suggestions, which included less overwhelming options and weekly reminders.
The turnaround was so drastic that the program’s director, Michele Eaton, recently won a FailFest competition because she was able to transform a program that failed at first into a model, The Hechinger Report notes. Eaton also noted the importance of talking about failure in moving forward and helping other districts in trying new things.
Everyone can benefit by learning how to capitalize on failure. In fact, it builds perseverance which is one of the most useful life skills a student can hope to acquire in school. Like Eaton, teachers can use their own mistakes to show students how to keep moving forward and quickly change gears when it becomes obvious they will need a plan B.
Students can be inspired by watching teachers overcome failure. They can relate to them on a more human level and it gives the students an example to follow.
Some schools have “Failure Week,” during which teachers share their own epic fails and what they learned from them. Letting students see the benefits of failure can lead to later success. As with the golfers’ Mulligan Rule, free do-overs can give students an opportunity to dissect their incorrect answers and figure out where they went wrong.
Giving students problem-solving strategies, such as how to break problems down, see patterns, use logical thinking and employ problem-solving diagrams will serve them well not just in school, but in life.