Thursday, October 16, 2008

Teaching Journal 08-09
Day 27, Thursday, October 16

Today I felt like a failure for part of the day, but that's not necessarily bad. As odd as it might sound, I'm learning to have a more positive attitude toward failure -- learning that failure is as inevitable, as necessary, even as helpful, as storms after a stretch of sunny days. I'm learning to learn from failure instead of running from it in disgust. I'm learning to accept it into my life the way I would accept an excellent teacher. I'm learning to sit at the feet of failure and see what lessons it can offer. Today, I must confess, it offered a multitude of lessons, because there seemed to be a lot of it. Things didn't go well in my teaching. In two classes, I taught a lesson that just plain didn't work, and in the other two I talked way too much. As a teacher, I stumbled today, and I didn't like the feeling ... but I'm already learning from it. One lesson I'm learning is to be a little more compassionate. Because of my failures today, I'm feeling what millions of teachers feel on any given day – distress, disappointment, and discouragement – and this will surely help me be more understanding, more aware of what so many of my world-wide colleagues live with now and then. There’s no doubt that compassion is a worthy virtue, and perhaps the best and easiest way to gain it is to fail. When we fail, we know how others feel. We walk in others’ shoes, feel what they feel, and perhaps join them somewhat in their suffering. In that sense, failure is a gift – a valuable donation toward our education. I guess, then, I should be grateful for my classroom failures today. Perhaps I should say to the failures what my students say to me when they leave my classroom: “Thank you.”

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