Failing in Order to Succeed

By Bri Tambellini, Secondary English Education Major/ ACH Clear Pathways After-School Arts Program Intern

5.. 6.. 5, 6, 7, 8! The music starts to play, and I begin counting in my head, trying to remember each dance move. My feet aren’t listening to my instructions and I realize that I have failed again. Mess up, try again. Mess up, try again. Try again and again until you get it right.

I recently watched an interview with an educator currently working as a mentor for first year teachers, who was offering advice for those of us nervous to begin our student teaching in the next few months. Something the interviewee spoke about was failure and as a teacher, the benefits of being transparent with your students about your own failure. Not only does this show that you are able to recognize your mistakes while actively trying to fix them, but it also sets a whole new tone for the class: it’s okay to mess up. One of the key components to success is reassessing what went wrong and figuring out how you can fix the problem. This process of course looks different for everyone, and it’s about finding strategies that work best for you that yield a result you want. Right now, for me, it’s working on choreography. It’s listening to the song multiple times and practicing the dance moves. It’s laughing when I make mistakes but refocusing to try and get it right the next time.

I am enjoying my experience at ACH Clear Pathways because I learn so much from the students each day. When I am in the art room, I am fascinated by their creativity. I asked a student one time what she was painting, and she replied, “I don’t really know actually, but I like it.” This taught me that sometimes you do not always have to have a plan and that you just have to see where a new idea and your imagination takes you because something amazing could come of it. When I am in the dance room, I learn about perseverance. I always become so overwhelmed and frustrated when I mess up a certain move, but I watch the students practice the choreography over and over, never getting discouraged when new, and sometimes complex, moves are added.

Throughout my time at ACH Clear Pathways thus far, I’ve noticed how my thinking about creativity and mindset has changed. One of my goals for this internship is to learn how to promote creativity more in my future classroom. Just by interacting with the students for only a couple weeks, I’ve noticed having a flexible structure seems to help stimulate this. I’ve started thinking about my lesson plans for my student teaching and specifically instructions for assignments. How can I find a balance between providing guidance for tasks and outline what will be expected of students, while still leaving room for originality? Mindset intertwines well with creativity. Encouraging my students to have a positive mindset can really boost their confidence and inspire students to think outside the box for their assignments. I would like them to challenge themselves to try something new. Having a positive outlook on experimenting with new ideas will give them the confidence to succeed and perseverance to keep reassessing when they are not seeing the results they desire.


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