Sunday, August 24, 2014

Courage of famous failures (and one not so famous failure)


We showed this incredible video to teachers at our opening meeting for back to school. We were discussing one of our essential questions on growth mindset, our emphasis for the first quarter. It's very interesting and inspiring to see the struggles these famous world changers faced on their path to success.

After watching the inspirational video, one of our teachers suggested the school create a similar video, to share with our students, that included the challenges (also known as failures) that BHS teachers had overcome in their lives. I was very excited about this great idea and plans are developing to make just such a video.

But then I started thinking about what failures I would share that could be included in the video. I really don't think I have a story nearly as compelling as these famous people. However, as I considered some of the challenges in my past, I realized there were some definite hurdles in my life. Maybe revealing these challenges would benefit some of our students. Maybe my story, and the story of other teachers in our building, could be that spark of inspiration a student needs.

Of course, our goal is to show that every person will encounter struggles, but the important thing is to never give up. It's much better to try and fail than never to try in the first place. And failure isn't the end. If you fail at something that just means it's not the end. You have to keep at it.

Here are a few of the setbacks I think I will share in our video:

1. I was held back in 2nd grade because I wasn't succeeding in the classroom. I think I was a pain in my teacher's neck...or pick another part of the anatomy.

2. I was bullied relentlessly throughout junior high and was the 'fat' kid. I often dreaded going to school and can remember feeling hopeless after some of the things that were said or done to me.

3. Our family moved three times while I was in high school so I never stayed anywhere too long. It was difficult to make lasting friendships, and I often felt like an outsider.

4. Although I was an average high school basketball player, I made a failed attempt to play college basketball. Actually, I was briefly on the team, but I never fulfilled my dream of actually playing at the college level.

5. As a young teacher I was placed on an 'improvement plan,' and I totally deserved it. And ultimately, I learned from this humbling experience.

6. I applied unsuccessfully for a number of principal or assistant principal jobs, before a school finally took a chance on me.

7. After getting my first principal job, a former supervisor commented to a colleague, "I didn't know if he'd make it as a principal. I thought it could go either way."
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