I had the opportunity to hear Jake Shea explain "How Google Works" sharing lessons from the book, "Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That will Transform How You Live and Lead." Shea shared several insights that work at Google and challenged those not at Google to think about how those insights can be realized where they work. One of the insights we were asked to think about was how we "reward thoughtful failure." He explained that risk-taking needs to be rewarded otherwise people simply won't take risks.
In the Work Rules! book, we learn from David Cote, the CEO of Honeywell, that the biggest thing he learned from working as a commercial fisherman was that hard work doesn't always pay off. If you work on the wrong thing, it doesn't matter how hard you work, because it's not going to make a difference.
But trying new things can be risky and result in failure. Even the best of us fail, but what Shea asked us to consider is the response to that failure via the lens of the person failing or the supervisor of the person failing.
Shea and the book share inspiring stories of rewarded failures (p253 - 257), but I was left trying to think about how failures are rewarded in schools and/or administration and I came up short.
Ironically, the next day an innovative #NYCSchoolsTech educator named Christina Basias was featured in the New York Times in an article about how Google has taken over classrooms. There is an excellent 10-slide spread on Basias and her students. Not surprisingly, one of the slides features how failure is rewarded in her practice. Check out all the slides here.
At the end of Christina's lessons, she has students evaluate her work using Google forms. She uses their feedback to improve her practice. The NY Times says this, "In a role reversal, at the end of English class Ms. Basias asks the students to use Google Forms, a questionnaire app, to critique the sonnet assignment she gave them." Here are some of the results:
In this lesson Christina explained the evaluation "showed her how much trouble the kids were having with the different categories of the sonnet in an honest way." The results show her ways she may consider adjusting her lesson in future and indicates where she can follow up with support for these students.
Christina has re-framed what might be seen by others as failure and transitioned it into an opportunity to improve practice and support student learning.
Some other ways this can be used in the classroom is to give students opportunities to learn from their mistakes. If they have wrong answers, give them a chance to get them right. Allow them to collaborate and use the tech they'd have access to in the real world. It they turn in a project that could be better, allow them to make it better.
Does your school or district reward thoughtful failure? Please share your experience in the comments.
Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.
Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.