Progressive Teaching: Seeing Failure as a Stepping Stone


Every day in the classroom was a nightmare. I was on edge the whole year at Woodson Academy It was my first year of teaching and I was thrown into the fire right away. These 7th grade students ruled the classroom with constant chattering and high pitched voices, sudden outbursts and fights. My attempts to discipline them were met with laughter and out right rebellion. Teachers in other classrooms whispered among themselves and became quiet upon my approach.

I became frustrated and bitter. I doubted my ability to survive as a teacher. Desperately, I wanted to give up and choose another, less complicated, profession. However, with the encouragement of a couple of understanding teachers along with my strong spiritual beliefs I decided to stay with teachings, at least another year. These veteran teachers had already been where I was now. What they told me to do over the summer was remarkable.

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During the summer vacation, I reflected on the previous school year, considering all the things I could have done better. From my research, I saw many things I had done wrong. Because of the chaos in my classroom, I developed the wrong attitude. I became bitter at myself as well as the children. Teaching wasn’t something out of a fairy tale store. Teaching was a growing process, involving many challenges each day in the classroom. Great teachers become that way for a reason. They achieve excellence and consistency by learning from their failures day after day, week after week. They stumble, recover and learn from every mistake, every weakness and every challenging situation. Recovering from failure and moving on is the prerequisite for becoming great.

The second year of my teaching brought me several rewards, including the teaching of the year award and as well as the most improved teacher. The skills that I had learned from failure and the new mindset I had adopted provided created a new perception of who I was and the responsibility in my hands to shape the life of others.

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No Overnight Success

You may be in a situation where all hell has broken loose. You may long for a more comfortable environment or hope for a condition in which you are in absolute control. Unfortunately, ideal situations, whether in the home or workplace, never occur overnight. Success seldom comes without experiencing a pattern of failures, picking yourself up and moving forward. All the heroic people in history-those who changed the world, faced many obstacles and setback in life. However, they decided not to submit to the intimidation of failure. They determined to be unstoppable.

Progression in life demands that we embrace failure, rejection, ridicule and shame as promotional factors on the journey toward success and achievement. The more we make peace with these emotions and befriend them, the greater our fame and fortune will grow.

The reasons for embracing failure are well worth the consideration of those who intend to be a player in the game of life.

Failure builds character

Good character brings appreciate from those around us. When we are stand up to hostile situations, conditions and people for what is right, even thought our efforts may not bring what we desire, our character strengthens and our integrity increases. Strong character cannot exist without having gone through many failures, learning from them and moving forward.

Failure creates courage

Courage increases in leaps and bounds if we are willing to go forward despite the possibility of failure. Superstars, whether in sports, music, acting, rose to prominence because they were willing to expose themselves to unpredictability. Many of these icons slipped and fell down many times on the way to success. Many musicians were booed off stage. Many famous sports figures were told they were too short, too skinny or too weak to participate in their particular sports. Many actors were discounted by movie directors before becoming award winning, film entertainers. Although they felt highly uncomfortable about their chances they proceeded anyway. They smiled at failure and moved forward.

Failure generates wisdom

Learning from failure is the key to overcoming failure. If we see failure as a bad omen in our lives, we will suffer the consequences of frustration, depression and victimization. Our lives will be nothing but one big pity party. We will be jealous of the success of our friends and family. Refusing to embrace our failures and learning from them is to play a dangerous game with our lives and the lives of those around us. When our knowledge and skills increase due to experiencing failure, we have something valuable to those around us. We become a positive driving force in their lives. Sharing the wisdom of failure connects us to the hearts of others.

Qualities of Achievement

Failure establishes excellence

There could be no excellence without failure. Moving toward excellence demands that we learn from making mistakes. No one knows it all in the beginning. The deeper knowledge of an endeavor must be gained on the journey. For example, great teachers learn the secrets of the trade, not by reading a book, but by years of falling down and getting back up, smiling at the students and moving forward. Outstanding actors who have won several Grammy awards are those who were willing to fail in their roles more often than actors who were not. Failing and getting back up is the hallmark of all progress in life. And it makes life worthwhile. Boredom is having no obstacles to overcome.

Teaching may not be your cup of tea, but whatever profession in which you desire to aspire, failure will stare you directly in the face. You can embrace it or avoid it. The choice you make will determine the quality of your life in the earth.

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