Freedom to Fail: Reflections on a Supportive Environment, and Following Your Own Path

--Originally published at Learning Opportunities

Creating a positive environment starts within. Whether it is within the classroom or throughout the campus, my attitude is where it starts. It is amazing how much a simple smile and a kind word can change a room. While this may sound cheesy, think about how you feel when you enter a room and are greeted kindly or ignored. Where would you rather be? Once you have this started, you have to maintain a feeling of teamwork, worth and involvement through any struggle you face.
We have a common goal, great educational opportunities. As teachers we create and nurture these for our students to take advantage of. Getting to those opportunities requires more than planning great activities; it helps to look at the process. With students or colleagues we all respond better when we are an included part of a team. All ideas are considered while struggles and critiques are acknowledged. It is important to let folks follow their path to reach the goal. My choices do not reflect those of others. As long as they are within the boundaries of the class or campus expectations, they should be valid options. With the freedom to choose a path, we need to approach others without judgement. Their path will be different, and we may not see how it will work, but it is their path and it might be a great choice.
With choice comes the opportunity to fail, learn and try again. When the path is not prescribed, we must take chances. It is much easier to do this in an environment that will support reflection and correction. It is nearly impossible to take those chances where failure is a possible final result. Choice and risk taking provides opportunities to learn and grow. Make it about learning. For students the grades will come, for teachers the process will be more rewarding.
This year I have continued to teach high school seniors and work with teachers implementing technology. Both require the opportunity to try, fail, and try again to become successful. I have found that those moments where the success comes after struggle are the sweetest.

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