Session 178: Teacher Confessions. What are your teacher fails and what can you learn from them?

Confession-pictureDate: Thursday 21st November, 2013.

Host: @rlj1981

This evening at 8pm, via #ukedchat, @rlj1981 hosts the session on teacher confessions. What are your teacher fails and what can you learn from them?

21.11.13 UKEdChat Hosted by @rlj1981. Session 178 – Teacher Confessions. What are you teacher fails and what can you learn from them?

The chat began with the question – ‘What are your fails as a teacher?’ the responses were varied but included comments about feeding back, work marked on paper, admin, not having a plan if technology fails, humorous misspellings on the board in front of the class, relying on other staff members to work as hard as you, wall displays, and not asking for help when needed. I felt that the teacher confessions were a fairly honest reflection of the anxieties that many teachers have and often don’t share. Some were quite funny, and I totally sympathise with ‘My own handwriting” via @eylanezekiel. However, many identified with not being able to say no – which has serious implications in terms of workload, and work/life balance.

I then asked ‘How can we try and learn from our mistakes?’ and there were some valuable insights, such as ‘Don’t make the same mistake twice’ via @Chrishildrew and ‘We need to stop being afraid of them and accept that mistakes will happen. we just need to pick the positives from them’ via @piesatthekippax . On the whole the feeling was to take time to reflect on any mistakes we make, and to use them to inform our teaching practice.

I then asked about the power of blogging, and asked if we should blog to reflect on our mistakes rather than simply share our successes. Have to say this question didn’t really capture then imagination of those participating, as at this time many were still discussing what mistakes they had made and how hey intended to learn from them. It was heartening to see people sympathising with other teachers, and even telling the mistakes they were confessing too were minor and not a fail at all.

I asked if making mistakes was part of positive role modelling to our learners. The answer appeared to be an unequivocal yes! Many teachers shared experiences where they felt showing resilience through failure had been positive for their learners. Phrases such as ‘Having a Growth Mind set’ were used by @ICTEvangelist and many teachers agreed we get better a Teaching by trying new things. Innovation will sometimes result in failure, but this was accepted and endorsed by many participating.

Trying to be a bit provocative, I then asked if failing SMT is different from failing your learners. Of course, the general feeling was failing your learners is worse, and something that teachers go to extreme lengths to avoid. To encourage people to talk at more length about how failure can be positive I asked about so called Fail Days at school. At this stage the questions was posed that how we define fail can in itself be problematic, and perhaps defined by an external Inspection regime. Of course, many teachers agreed, and felt that failure is perhaps defined by others but felt most keenly by individual teachers. Many teachers enjoyed the Samuel Beckett quote about failing better, as well as the FAIL (First Attempt at Learning) and tweets containing those quotes were much retweeted.

Finally, I asked what positives we could take away from failing. Teachers were very positive about being comfortable that failing is part of the process of learning, for both teachers and learners.

Around 50 individuals participated, and the chat was a lot of fun. It was lovely to see teachers supporting each other and working to resolve problems in a very positive way.

Top Tweets:

Teacher Tip – Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories via @Urban_teacher

Don’t be scared of failing but, do prepare, practice and seek advice on how to reduce the impact of any failures on others. Via @Stplearing

Fail now, be the risk taker, think outside the box, because in a few years you’ll be outstanding. Via SRTeaching

About your Host

Rachel Jones @rlj1981 is a college educator in Portsmouth. She blogs at

Session 178 – Teacher Confessions. What are your teacher fails and what can you learn from them?

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1 Comment

  1. Sounds like an excellent topic with a lot of scope for interesting ideas… Might not be around this evening at #ukedchat time, but you might find either of these relevant:

    Our little YouTube video on mistake-making…

    ;How To Develop A Fail Safe Classroom’ via Novak Djokovic, Michael Jordan, Mr Kipling (not THAT one!) and Bop It!:

    Will take a look through the archive later. Should make for interesting reading…

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