Tag Archives: failure

When failure means growth

Photo courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales on flickr

Today I found out that I didn’t get the teacher librarian position I’d recently applied for in a girls’ secondary school. Initially I was undecided about applying for the position and upsetting my world with change, then I decided that I’d go for it, and that I’d get it only if it was meant to be, after that it became something in which I had to succeed, which is silly because it turns into a personal quest. So when I received the fatal phonecall today, the rejection hit me on a personal level, although fortunately not for too long.

After asking for feedback, the head of library and I had a lovely conversation which had me thinking I would like to keep in touch if only by seeking her out at PD sessions. Some people you feel you would click with in the first few minutes of conversation.

Anyway, I’ve processed the whole thing to the point where I can put the matter behind me and return to my previous life. I wanted to write about this experience of job seeking, applications and interviews because I was interested in other people’s experiences. How many people go for new teaching jobs, how often, and how many rejections do you have before it hits you where it hurts, or before you decide no more?

And isn’t the interview a strange, artificial beast? I’m not very good at the interview thing but with practice (I don’t get any better but) I’m not as threatened and start to feel more confident about what I have to offer. I won’t be fake though, won’t talk myself up, and I definitely wear my heart on my sleeve. I suppose I feel that I don’t want to trick people into thinking I’m something that I’m not. I want to be able to say, here I am – warts and all; take me or leave me. But that’s just unprofessional. Nobody wants to hear about your shortcomings, they just want to hear your uncompromising assurance that you will do a brilliant job.

Photo by Terry297 on Flickr

Meanwhile, I’m staying transparent, sharing everything I have with whoever is interested – and if that includes my failures, then so be it.

Just today I read a very transparent graduation speech by a  primary school principal whose openness and generosity of heart really touched me. Here is a principal whose strength lies not in top-down leadership but in the acknowledgement and appreciation of the members of his community.

Although this was grade 6 for you at Forest Green as a student, this was Kindergarten for me as a principal. .  I am honoured that I got to address you on your first day of grade 6 and now your last. In my first year as a principal, I wanted to sit back and learn the environment of the school and I was so impressed with all that you did.  As a teacher first, we are suppose to be the ones that teach YOU, but in reality, you taught me just as much.

As I get older, I feel not so much that I’m more knowledgeable – in fact, my questions increase – but that I’m stronger in that I draw my strength from others and I’m not afraid to admit it. My hope is that I pass on the message to students – that their greatest achievement is their learning community or network – not their mark but the support of and appreciation of others in their learning journey.

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What are we telling our students?

I found this on Rob Jacobs’ blog.

What does this tell us as educators?

Think before you speak negatively or label a student. Try to find the best in the student. Encourage students to run with their passions, to have a go, to accept difficulties as challenges, to chill out.

We all ‘fail’ at something sometime. If we help students view their ‘failures’ as opportunities for growth, they’re learning the most important lessons in life. Learning from mistakes – you learn to think/approach things differently, to persist, to empathise with strugglers; you move forward, after a while you realise that’s the path we follow if we walk the path.

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