I am once again at a conference, yes I live a charmed life, this time it is a conference put on by my province’s teaching association for first and second year administrators. Our keynote this morning was Dr. Robert Marzano and he spoke at times about teacher supervision. It was refreshing to hear someone speak about how the supervision or evaluative process could be used for teachers to try new things and to gain feedback while doing so. I immediately thought of a couple of teachers on my staff I would love to work with, assisting them by supervising a lesson during which they tried something wild, and then the two of us reflecting after (or during) the class. This idea made me think about my last post, and about how we want to start motivating our students to welcome mistakes and to grow from their mistakes. I think we need to send this message to our teachers as well.
Risk taking by our teachers is going to be an important part of challenging our students in the future. If we are going to have our students engage in exercises that cause them to struggle, we are going to need our teachers to create lessons that provide students with struggle. I spoke about that last time, but what I realized is that we also have to instill that mindset in our teachers. We have to urge our TEACHERS to go out and fail as well. We have to inspire our teachers to try to create lessons that even we aren’t sure will be successful. We have to urge them to push the envelope, and if done properly, they will be bound to crash and burn from time to time. When they do, we need to be there to thank them for their efforts, to praise them for their courage and to help them back on to their creative and experimental horse.
I was thinking that introducing this idea needs to happen in the interview process for every new teacher we hire. How freeing would that be, to be sitting across from your future boss and to hear them say “We want you to FAIL!”… well maybe not, but you can imagine it would be a comforting feeling to know that your principal expects you to try things and for them not to always go well. For new teachers, everything would be new, so knowing it is ok for things to go poorly might put their minds at ease.
I want any teacher I work with to strive for personal growth in their profession. I want them to feel like they have the freedom to do new and exciting things. I also want our students to know that their teachers care enough about them to be creative and to experiment with lessons. Maybe the most important moment in the process will be when that teacher tries that amazing new lesson, falls flat on their face, and then reflects on that failure with their students. We model so many things for our students, modeling how to properly deal with failure, to grow and learn from failure, that just may be the best lesson we can teach.