Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Mentoring Failure

I love these conference connections!

I am presenting at the Michigan Google Summit today at Lake Fenton High School on both teaching with TED-Ed and a session on mentoring passion.  I love the conversations that stem from my presentation on the work Christy Brennan and I did on our mentoring passion project, bringing together students of differing grade levels to share their inquiry experiences with one another.  In fact, I was hoping to scale this into a much larger project by putting together an online space to connect various teachers, students, and experts engaging in similar passion-driven inquiry projects across the country.  It was to be my TED-Ed Innovative Project.

But I failed.

Sharing my Mentoring Passion project with TED-Ed Innovative educators in June
I love this presentation, but so much of it is still in process.  It is not a finished project.  I am still reflecting on the role student ownership plays in the inquiry process. As I was presenting today, I revealed some of my pitfalls with my passion-driven inquiry projects and where I was still struggling. I need more time to reflect on where I am stepping into the student inquiry process.  I still spend too much time hunting down expert connections for my students, instead of facilitating opportunities to define and find those experts themselves. And as I shared, a conversation emerged that has me thinking more deeply about changes I want to make in the coming months to our inquiry projects.

Here is what I have learned: I need to open up more space in my classroom for students to talk about their failures. So much time is spent honoring the successes, the students who have done everything we have asked and have come to the conclusions that we expected them to have.  But what are they really learning?  Instead, I need to open up time and space for my students to share their struggles, like I did today, because the conversations that emerged from my admission of failure has moved me forward in my planning and thinking in important ways.  Imagine the power of those types of moments in our classroom.  Instead of teaching students to jump through hoops, we should be mentoring students on how to recover from initial failure.  This is a critical step in innovation. If we want to grow innovation in our classroom, we must open up spaces for failure.


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