“Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo.” Jon Sinclair
When I think back, the majority of my early education was dominated by a fear of failure. Fear of failing a test, an assignment, an evaluation, or anything else that I perceived or was taught to recognize as the final attempt. The stress and anxiety was sometimes overwhelming. Now, I have empathy for teachers, students, and other leaders when I see them in similar situations. As a teacher, I was deeply aware of the impact on fear of failure on my students with learning difficulties. Fear of failure has the potential to be paralyzing.
In Justin Reich’s article, Failure is Mandatory: Creating a Culture of Innovation, four essential strategies are outlined that as an administrator, as a leader, is having an impact on my personal vision of what awesomeness really looks like. I found it helpful to select the quotes from the article that I found particularly useful to enact the strategies as an administrator.
A Culture of Innovation
“In all, there should be an aligned and cohesive attempt to create a culture of innovation that is defined collaboratively by the administration, IT department, and classroom teachers. Where there is an understanding of the mission of technology as it pertains to the service of learning, and where all of the constituents are pulling together so that they have the infrastructure, the professional development support, the resources, and best practices available to them to ensure that their technology program is purposeful and not purposeless. Finally, all constituents should understand that Failure is not an option…. it’s a requirement!”
Strategy #1 – Remove the Fear of Failure
“Thus the challenge for administrators is encouraging experimentation and failure so that teachers work through their fears and gain an understanding of how technology enhances classroom instruction in ways that go beyond the affordances of pen and paper. When teachers uncover innovative ways in which technology engages students and nurtures essential skills such as creativity, critical thinking and collaboration, they can begin to move beyond instructional practices perhaps best suited to a bygone era.”
Strategy #2 – Create Skunkworks
“Administrators can encourage these skunkworks by providing educators with planning time so that they can meet to discuss technology integrations, lessons, activities, and strategies, or by designating individual time to experiment with and share new technologies and their incorporation.”
Strategy #3 – Promote Success
“Administrators can further cultivate a culture of innovation by providing public recognition as well as teaching opportunities for innovators. They can create avenues for progressive, innovative teachers to present in front of the faculty or in department meetings.”
Strategy #4 – Align IT & Curriculum
“Administrators need to ensure that a technology committee collects, retains, and disseminates institutional knowledge of best practices, that teachers share lessons, activities, and practices, and that curriculum advocates have a prominent say in technology directives along with the IT Department.”