Is Failure a Cycle?

So many things I do in life I try to learn from it.  I also like to use experiences to help me empathize with others.  I guess that comes with the job. Sometimes it is hard to empathize with students when you only see them for an hour a day and you don’t know what is going on in there lives.

So for a week I have had failure after failure.  Job opportunity – did not happen, ISTE proposal – did not happen, Edublogs awards – lost, Stats class – not going well, projects kids worked on all week – not as good as I hoped. So it has been failure after failure after failure.  I am so down, no matter how bad I do not want to be. It’s Christmas for goodness sake and all I can think about is how professionally I am failing.

After the rejection of ISTE proposal I had a major self inflicted pity party. Luckily when the edublog awards were announced (even though I was so HAPPY for my friends who won & honored to be nominated) I was with a great group of friends (all of whom I met on twitter by the way)  so could focus elsewhere.  Yesterday I thought and have yet to change my mind, if I stop taking these risk, then I do not have to worry about the hurt of failure.

I still have 9 students who have not turned in their 200 point science project.  This is a record, last year I had 25 out of 93 students.  But it has been driving me crazy that they haven’t even attempted the project.  Every one of these are students already failing my class.  Students I have to almost sit on to get to do anything. Students who are SMART and can do the work.

Now I get it, if they are anything like I am right now they probably have the same attitude, why do the work, if it is just not good enough?  Why take up the time when I could be doing something I know I am good at?  It all makes sense now.  They did not do the project because the do not like me or do not like my class.  I am sure a few have different reasons, no one to help at home, etc, but I am more confident this could be the reason because with these students I am seeing it over and over.

Before I started writing this post I asked on twitter if people thought Failure was a cycle.  No one said no.  I got many replies.  One of my brilliant colleagues asked if I had ever read Carol Dweck’s  work. I had not, but of course googled her immediately.  Over and over I am seeing her information about mindset and how that determines success not how smart you are.  Think she is on to something, I will be reading more.

I think this failure thing is a cycle.  My new goal (though I hate setting goals because of failure!) is to find the best way to change these mindsets.  I know I need a positive mindset, it will come eventually.


***To those leaving comments (which is always welcome): If there is no “anti-spam” word when leaving a comment, click “change users” next to the comment box. I will show the :anti-spam” word! I do not understand why it does this.***


So you know over the last few months I have been back and forth over my views of IWBs (interactive white boards). My biggest push is that its main purpose is for the students to be using it instead of the teacher. My students reminded their need to use it here.  You also may have read here that I recently visited the Promethean headquarters as part of their social media council.  As part of that I have learned about something that will change how the technology is used by the students.

I noticed lately one thing that is driving the kids crazy while at the IWB, their inability to take turns.  And I will admit it does suck when they get excited about what they want to do and someone else is already using the ActivPen.  They all want to use it at the same time. The other day the kids were having to do a improv brain storming activity. They were given a planet to research, I put a picture of the planet on the screen and they had to in front of the  rest of the class brainstorm what they knew about the planet in less than 2 minutes. Quick, easy, and I could evaluate who knew it and who did not. More than once a student thought of something and by the time they waited on their partners to finish their idea was gone. I even had one ask if he could write his on the markers board while the other wrote.

So this is where the new ActivBoard 500 Pro becomes more awesome than the board I have.  The students no longer have to take turns.  The board allows for up to 4 touches at a time.  Did you see I said “touches” not pens? Yep not only 4 pens could be used but four touches as well.  Pretty sweet.

So in my search for the correct way to use the IWB in a classroom, the more advanced the technology is becoming.  This advancement is supporting my theory that these boards are for the kids, not the teachers to use. (Unless you are in a 4 teacher classroom, which you be annoying to all)

Thank You

This weekend I was reading tweets (as usual) and saw one that stated the Edublog Awards.  I quickly clicked the link and started looking through the list. I was so excited to see so many friends and blogs I love dearly on that list.  Then I start scrolling down the “Best New Blog” category and Keep thinking, “I like that blog!” or “I love him!”  Then I saw “Upside Down Education” and I seriously thought, hey that blog has similar name as mine. Once the airheadedness (nope it is not a word but using it) left me I realized that was my blog.

In all of my career this is one of the most honored moments.  To be voted on my peers is not only awesome enough, but it to be something I many times feel so insecure about.  Last week on my way home from visiting family for Thanksgiving I had a convo with Jason Bedell about why I should blog or not. If my blogs really made a difference, and so on.  So I find it interesting a week later being nominated for something that to me is such a big honor.

Please go to the Edublog award site and look at the list of blogs, especially if you are looking for new ones to follow.

I thank you for reading what I write and I am very humbled by this nomination.  Y’all are what keep me motivated. Thank you.

Best New Blog

What’s Your Empowering Word?

This week’s Sports Illustrated features the “Sportsman of the Year.” This year the award goes to Drew Brees. I’m the only one in my house not a Saints fan, so I know all there is to know about Drew Brees. So I skipped the fun ‘Leading Off’ and ‘For the Record’ articles & went straight for the Brees story.

The story starts with the writer following Brees to an elementary school to speak to the students. There was one girl during q&a time that asked a question that has stuck with me ever since. She asked, “What’s your empowering word?” First of all I found that to be an awesome question coming from an elementary age child. Second, it got me thinking.

An empowering word? To have an empowering word you have to feel empowered. You have to be empowered.

I started wondering if my students feel empowered in my classroom. I’m leaning more toward no than yes. I don’t like that. I need to change some things for that to happen. I’m not sure what, but something.

What is your empowering word? (I really would like to know) Do your students have an empowering word?

By the way, Drew Brees’ empowering word is faith. Fits him.