October 21 2012

A wild ride …. Failure, OK, and Risk.

It’s Sunday night. The past week has been an amazing adventure for me. This time a week ago, I was putting the finishing touches on my camp, and stressing out big time about what was likely to go wrong, what I’d forgotten to do, what I was missing … you get the idea. Stress head. Three days of wondrousness with my year group, with a few emotional ups and downs (did I mentioning jumped of a power pole? Insane!!!) and I was home for a day, before heading to the PLANE festival of learning. I’ve blogged about some of the fantasticness that was the festival, and I feel like I haven’t fully captured it. My head is still spinning from everything I saw and heard. I’m still a bit star-struck about some of my edu-idols that I got to hang out with, and some newbies that have been added to that list.

There are a couple of main ideas that I have taken away with me from the festival. The first is the idea of failure, and how we value it in gaming, how we learn from it, and use it as a form of constant and instant assessment, but in education it’s just an end. We fail, we move on, and we don’t revisit, or retry, of figure out what it is we need to do to do better next time. It’s something that’s been frustrating me personally as we look at our assessment strategies in our faculty, as I feel like a lot of what we do is one off, not effectively embedded as part of everything that we do. I want students who are resilient – don’t we all? Not because their grades will look better, although that is a lovely side-effect, but because it will help them become better workers, better thinkers, better problem-solvers, better friends, better people. Heck, it’ll help ME be all those things!! I’m not sure how to deal with this, but I’m pulling together some of the ideas that I heard at the festival, and looking at how they fit in with what I want to do with some of my classes. I’m sure it’s going to be something I’ll be blogging about more in the future. My main motivators in my musings on this idea we Peggy Sheehy, who gave an insightful and thought-provoking presentation on World of Warcraft in her teaching, and Dean Groom, who never fails to get the cogs spinning in my mind.

The second is the idea of well-being. What is it? How do we build it? Is ok really enough, or should we be committed to something more? There are some great conference doodles which capture some of these ideas – if I get a chance, I’ll pop on the computer later and add in a link to them, as its not quite working properly on the iPad. If you don’t see them here, then chances are I didn’t get around to it! The idea, though, is that we focus so much on making sure that people are ok, then we move on, that we never get to the point of making sure they are flourishing. I don’t want to be ok with just ok, and lately it feels like that’s what I’ve been striving for. I wouldn’t be ok with that in the mental and emotional health of my year group, or my children – why should I be ok with it in my own?
If you are interested in hearing more about this from someone eminently more qualified to talk about it in eloquent terms, rather than my cryptic ramblings, check out the PLANE Leadmeet coming up on Tuesday night, and Dan Haesler’s blog. I took his advice, and took a bit of time to myself today … Lovely. Need to do it more often.

The third idea that I have taken to heart is that of risk. Dr Sarah Howard present a keynote on Friday afternoon about risk – how important it is, and how we need to nurture it in ourselves and our colleagues, if we have any hope of seeing it flourish in our students. I truly believe we need to develop in our students a desire to step outside their comfort zones, and to take educated risks in their own learning. How can we do that, though, if we keep doing the same thing in our teaching practice because we think it works, or because we are worried what might happen if worry something that doesn’t work? Back to that idea of failure again.

I mentioned the other day about my big risk on camp. My terrifying, I still can’t believe I did it but I’m starting to be a little bit proud of myself, step off the top of a power pole. And I remember the boy in my group, who was firmly committed to the idea of staying on the ground, but after I bawled my way to the top and back down again, with no comment started putting on a harness. That’s what it’s about, right? Demonstrating what you want to see. we do it with text types, we do it with mathematical equations. Let’s start doing it with risk. Let’s start doing it with well-being. Let’s start doing it with failure.

Hopefully this link works … It’s a slightly dodgy video of me, and it’s seriously unattractive at the end, but I’m kind of ok with that. What are you going to do this week that’s risky?

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Posted October 21, 2012 by Tamara Reads in category PLANE

About the Author

She/her. On Whadjuk Noongar land. NSWPRC Officer, Teacher Librarian, English teacher and social media advocate. I've been teaching in Western Sydney for my entire teaching career, and love my job more than I love Neil Gaiman. (That's a lot, in case you're wondering!) I stalk authors (but always politely), fangirl over books, and drink coffee. And one of my guilty prides about my children is that they all have favourite authors. All opinions are my own.

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