To develop as competent confident learners, students need to experience successes and failing. Explore how to assist your learner in analyzing their experiences in both succeeding and failing to develop strategies for future success. Build empowered learners.
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Steve [Intro]: 00:01 Hello and welcome to the Parent Wellbeing and Student Learning During School Closures Edition of the Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud podcast. With the extended closing of schools, we as parents have entered into a new territory regarding what we have known as “school learning.” With this and future podcasts, I’ll look to share my experiences as a teacher, educator, parent, grandparent, and continuous learner.
Steve: 00:35 Supporting students’ learning from success and failing. I was facilitating a school staff where they were discussing the school’s vision statement. One of the goals was to graduate competent and confident learners. When I asked them what students needed to do, what students needed to experience in order to develop confidence as learners, folks quickly responded with, success. Students needed many success experiences. It took a while for the team to also identify that students needed to experience failures in order to be competent, confident learners. Failures along with success. Confidence and resilience emerge when a learner has a history of struggling with new learning, failing on initial attempts, and then meeting with success. The next time they fail or struggle, they have a mindset that the lack of initial success is feedback or it’s information. It tells them that something else is needed. I may need more practice. I may need additional information. I may need a new strategy.
Steve: 02:02 Consider those letters. F. A. I. L. For fail. The letters F. A. I. L. can be used to indicate first attempt in learning. A. J. Juliani, a educator and author writes, “It’s funny how hard it is to learn to fail. I try to make it a part of kids’ days. I want them to fail epically and to learn from the experience. I want them to overcome frustrations and failures and figure out how to overcome these events.” Juliani provides a great clue to us when helping to teach the difficulty of failure by switching from the noun failure to the verb failing. We don’t want kids to experience failure, which is an end or a conclusion. What we want kids to experience is failing. Failing that leads to future success. A. J. Juliani recorded a great YouTube clip. It’s about five minutes long.
Steve: 03:24 I’ve linked it in the lead-in to this podcast. It’s actually one that you might want to watch with your learners. To learn from success requires one to analyze what may be at the root, the cause, of one being successful. Was I successful because of my abilities in the area, because of the effort that I invested, because of the degree of difficulty of the task or because of luck. Let’s take a moment to consider each one. Was the reason for the success my ability. In other words, am I highly skilled at the task that I was taking on? Do I know a whole lot about it and that ability and knowledge led to my success? Or was I successful because of the effort that I invested in carrying out the task? Did I work hard and long at the task? That’s the perfect example for me.
Steve: 04:28 If I’ve actually finished putting together a piece of Ikea furniture that we purchased the job got done because of my effort and the success came from my effort and my ability. Was I successful because of the degree of difficulty. In other words, did I tackle a task that was easy for me to achieve? After having studied calculus in high school, I enrolled in a college that required all freshmen to take a course called the fundamentals of mathematics. And when I returned home that first semester of college, I met with my friends and they talked about how they were struggling in their math classes. I told them that I was doing very well. Of course I didn’t bother to tell them the title of the course I was in. I was having a high degree of success, but it was due to the limited degree of difficulty of the task I had taken on.
Steve: 05:30 And lastly, sometimes we’re successful just because of luck. It only took me two trips to the race track with horses to understand that my winning the first time was due to luck and not anything connected to my ability or hard work and the degree of difficulty of picking a winner was extremely challenging. You can go back now and apply those same criteria, ability, effort, degree of difficulty in luck to an instance where you dealt with failing. So did I struggle with the task because it’s an area where I don’t have ability because I didn’t make much of an investment and effort. How did the degree of difficulty match my existing abilities and was luck at all present in whether I was succeeding or failing. Here’s a process you can use with your child or teen to build an understanding of learning from success or failing.
Steve: 06:41 You might want to take notes during this process or have your learner take notes so that they can refer back to them when you begin debriefing sometime later. First step is to set a goal for learning something new for mastering some skill. Examples could be, decreasing their time in swimming a particular race event like the 100 butterfly or growing a giant pumpkin in the family garden or passing a difficult test or mastering a new language at the first A-1 level. Having set the goal, now have the learner develop a plan of action. What behaviors will they take on to learn and achieve their goal? It might be a hypothesis that they form. I believe that by doing this, this and this, I will make progress towards the goal and become successful. Next, have them predict why the plan is doable and what could go wrong. If necessary at this time, modify the plan to decrease the possible negative impacts.
Steve: 08:12 Now, implement the plan and set realistic checkpoints to measure the success of progress. Realistic checkpoints are critical. Many of you who have attempted to lose weight know that a mistake we can make is weigh too soon and too often before any of the results of our efforts are able to take place. At the appropriate checkpoint spots, analyze what success has been gained, where has failing been present, and now the big question, what have I learned either from the success or from failing and how will I apply it moving forward? If I can identify why I was successful, I certainly want to keep those behaviors going and maybe increase them. If I identified why I’m failing, then I use that as information perhaps to modify my plan or else to just to recognize I need to stay at my plan longer. Many of you will find that you need to have a conversation with your child or teen to assist them in the analyzing process, sometimes they want to jump to a wrong conclusion.
Steve: 09:40 There’s a great example of a a teenager who was taking his first college level class while in high school and he wasn’t doing very well. His parents, having decided that it was due to a lack of sufficient effort, set down some guidelines that required a fixed amount of study time and effort being put into mastering the learning material. The student came home with an A on the next major exam and quickly complained to his parents that they had wasted his time. He didn’t need to study because the test was easy. An inappropriate analysis of what led to the learning outcome. If you can, identify a recent success or failing that you are experiencing at learning or mastering something new and share your analysis with your learner and explain how you are taking what you have learned and applying it to your future learning efforts. Good luck and thanks for listening.
Steve [Outro]: 11:12 Thanks again for listening. You can subscribe to Steve Barkley ponders out loud on iTunes and Podbean and please remember to rate and review us on iTunes. I also want to hear what you’re pondering. You can find me on twitter @stevebarkley or send me your questions and find my videos and blogsatbarkleypd.com.