A Story About Failure

Ford QuoteGoal 16: Share Your Fail Story! of The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators. Join the challenge for free! Connect with other educators completing challenges in our 30 Goals Facebook community.

“Failure is simply an opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” ~ Henry Ford

This year’s theme is, “This is MY Moment.” Goals focus on getting educators to believe their plans of action now will lead to positive changes and transformation in their teaching and learning environments. We vote for the goals as a community and sometimes I come up with the goals. Today’s goal was inspired by Debora Tebovich, a teacher in Argentina, who wrote about the goal here, Lesson Failed: Recalculating. For this goal:

Short-term goal– Reflect on a time you think you failed. What did you learn from this incident?

Long-term goal– Make it a habit to continually reflect on successes and failures within the week or month and how to improve for next time.

A Screaming Guardian

I remember the first uncomfortable incident I had with a guardian. I taught international students at a high school with a boarding program. About 70 teens came to the US to complete high school. They sometimes had relatives they stayed with. Gina (not her real name) was a student of mine from Italy who stayed with her aunt. We had a pretty good relationship I thought minus one incident where she had cheated on a test.

It was the week of finals. Gina’s aunt came barging in my class right before the bell, screaming what a terrible teacher I was. It was the first time I had met her or communicated with her after several failed attempts. I was in shock. Gina stood by her side quietly. I got defensive and asked if she received any of my previous communication attempts, especially when Gina cheated on a test and received a zero. The aunt replied she had, but that Gina explained I made a mistake. I was in shock when I realized the aunt had purposely chosen not to communicate with me. I told her to speak to my director. In the end, my director sided with me and told me the aunt was trying to get a discount on tuition.

It would be easy to forget this incident, but I like to make sure I can avoid situations like these. How could I prevent this? Where did I go wrong?

At the beginning of the year, I make it a point to get all contact information and send e-mails and handwritten letters to let guardians know what to expect. I also send regular e-mails to parents in other countries. For a long time, this communication was just to inform but now I have learned the purpose of this communication should be to connect and form an alliance with guardians to help their learners succeed. The first few weeks of school, I take the time and effort to now contact all guardians with positive messages about their children. This way the first contact ensures I am not out to get the child or have prior prejudices. This has helped improved my school year, tremendously. Working with parents means what I teach continues at home because the parents and I are a team making sure their children achieve.

I talk more about this failure and share other stories in this EduAllStars interview posted below.


Reflect on a failure. What did you learn?

Please leave a comment that you accomplished this goal by either posting your own video reflection on Youtube, using the hashtag #30GoalsEdu, posting on the 30 Goals Facebook group, or adding a comment below! All goals are organized in this 30 Goals Livebinder.

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell), Facebook.com/ShellyTerrell, and on her blog, TeacherRebootCamp.com, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at https://www.slideshare.net/ShellTerrell/presentations

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