Fall Down Seven Times, Get up Eight #sol18

download-5.jpgFall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight #sol18

March 20, 2018

Passing by in the hallway, my colleague says,  How’s your day goingTerrible,  I say.  Relief crosses her face.  Really?  Me too!  I just didn’t want to admit it.  Four snow days in five school days has made a Friday feel like three days. But sometimes, it’s more than that.  Sometimes teachers feel like they have run off the road into the weeds.

There are times when great teachers,  good teachers,  teachers teaching out there on the very edge of the proverbial frontier  feel  deep in their bones,  their gut,  their core  that they are getting it wrong.  So what?   Wait, what???

If we are going to get it right with a capital R, we have to be willing to get it really terribly wrong.   It’s all a huge experiment… or a small experiment and we have to be willing to have it… well,  fizzle.  That is so rough.  So many things come into play. Who we think is watching?  Who we think is judging?  Everything we feel about failure ourselves.

Epic tries occasionally produce epic(ish) fails.  It can be difficult to go back to the mats, start over step by step.  But the payoff… it’s so rich.

One of the things that happens when we never fail is that the kiddos believe that failure is not an option.  When we struggle with the lesson,  with the timing,  with our own words,  the students know that everyone does.  When we flat out say,  wow,  we need a redo,  kids feel that giving something another go is a viable option.

10,000 hours, Malcolm Gladwell, in Outliers, claims it takes to become a master of ONE PARTICULAR THING.   See more about it here.  That is approximately ten years.  The thing about the job of an educator is that we are constantly shifting what the target is.  We are changing curriculum at a break neck speed, adapting to all around us:  new students, new materials, new challenges.  One of my colleagues equates this to rebuilding the plane in flight.  Speaking of flight,  I have also heard the factoid that teachers make more decision per day than an air traffic controller, arguably one of the most stressful jobs.

Knowing all of this,  feeling this way (sometimes),  what do we do?  We do what we encourage our students to do when things don’t go well.  We keep going,  we try again, we persevere.  We rethink, review, retry.  Just like my heroes,  Lewis and Clark,  we proceed on.

I think about the teacher, the coach, the educator that I want to be.  After thirty seven year, I’m still a work in progress.  I hope I never stop being one.

Sometimes these feelings are a result of the season, the testing, lots of meetings, snow days.  Sometimes they happen when we are trying something new, challenging, daunting.  You know that saying,  more is caught that taught.  Catch me struggling.  Catch me striving.  Catch me when my reach is exceeding my grasp.


Reading Food for Thought:  A Mindset for Learning

Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8



Thank you to my writing community at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life.  This is day 20 of a 31 day writing streak in the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Read some incredible Slices here.

16 thoughts on “Fall Down Seven Times, Get up Eight #sol18

  1. I love the line ” If we are going to get it right with a capital R, we have to be willing to get it really terribly wrong. ” Your willingness to tell your truth is fantastic. I just had a conversation with a friend about this same thing. You have to work it out for you and no one else. Thanks.

  2. Yes, there’s a lot that can get in the way of the rhythm of great teaching. I love the reminder to not let perfect get in the way of good, and I also recently heard that really great teaching and learning happens when things feel a little out of control. I liked that too. It’s nice to hear that other districts feel like curriculum changes at breakneck speed.

  3. Catch me struggling. Catch me striving. Catch me when my reach is exceeding my grasp. Love this — great post. So many important reminders to all of us. These feelings and conversations are what truly creates a learning community of adults and kids. It is messy and it takes time.

  4. I’m still a work in progress.  I hope I never stop being one. Love! My mentor was two years from retirement when I met her. She was like you, always growing. She gave me a vision of what a teacher was. I carry that with me.

  5. The message in your post, as well as the way you crafted it, resonates as so true. And it’s so inspiring! Teaching is all a huge experiment- yes! And the notion that we are all works in progress is something my mother taught me. As a teacher herself, she modeled learning literally right to the very end of her lifetime. She never pretended like she knew it all, but always modeled growth and the value of learning new things. I love when you describe teachers and how we sometimes feel we’ve “run off the road into the weeds.” And the worry we feel that we’re constantly being judged. This post will start my day off right today! Thank you.

  6. The fact that you have been doing this for thirty-seven years, still have struggling days, and still learning, is inspiring! We need to be more honest about the days that don’t go well; how else can we get the support we need to become better teachers? Totally agree with modeling failure in front of our students as well! Perfection is overrated and unachievable.

  7. You have captured perfectly here what it means to teach and to teach well. I think many of us worry that failure means failing our students; yet, as you’ve so wonderfully pointed out, making mistakes ourselves can be so beneficial for our students to see. Your growth mindset is inspiring!

  8. Yes! Yes to so much in here. Yes to acknowledging the horrible feeling “that (we) are getting it wrong.” Yes to “If we are going to get it right with a capital R, we have to be willing to get it really terribly wrong.” yes to “When we flat out say, wow, we need a redo, kids feel that giving something another go is a viable option.” And yes to “Catch me struggling. Catch me striving. Catch me when my reach is exceeding my grasp.” May I continue to strive and fail and succeed for as long as I teach. Thanks for this great pep talk!

  9. Oh wow. This is full of perseverance, and hope, and determination, and faith. Teachers need all that and more. Thank you for your honesty and for your positive thinking. Yes, our reach often exceeds our grasp, but we have to try. We will NEVER grasp anything if we don’t keep reaching.
    “I reach for the stars – I cannot touch them, I know
    But reaching helps me seek the higher things, and helps me grow
    And so – I reach for the stars”
    Good for you.

  10. The idea of failure as part of success is so powerful. We want our children and students to take risks, but how often do we really model our own failures and how we learned and grew as a result of them. This was a great reminder for me.

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