Are Teachers Really Willing to Fail?

Higher Ed May 19 / May 17, 2019

–Nuria Hernandez Nanclares–

The FLGI has just made public the Flipped Learning Competency Score, a tool to measure the skills advisable to apply FL approach. One of the questions asks for the strategy adopted when introducing new group space activities; concretely, the willingness to fail when introducing a new group activity, both for teachers and students.

In my last post, I have related the growth mindset with the recommendations included in the Global Elements of Effective Flipped Learning Table (GEEFL) and, specifically, towards failure attitude. It is clear that it is necessary for a growth mindset to be opened to failure as an opportunity to learn and several elements of the GEEFL point also in this direction. Embrace failure and be willing to fail at new group activities (Eb:Gs-3) and encourage students to see that failure is a learning opportunity (Fl:C-6) are two of the elements that insist on this topic. It seems clear that group space is the appropriate environment to support students’ failure, to accept errors and to understand that not being perfect is an incentive to try again.

Yes but…

But what happens with teachers? Is the classroom a safe place to fail? Is it the group space, when working with students, the right moment to make experiments? Is it advisable to try new activities directly in the classroom? Are teachers really willing to fail at group space activities and let their students fail and try again?

I am not really sure that many teachers want to risk and try a new collaborative assignment or check the last instructional technique unless they are really sure it will work. So where is the teaching lab for most teachers? How can many teachers rehearse these innovations? It is necessary to recognize that many professionals do not enjoy a teaching coach or not even have some understanding colleagues with whom to test new activities.

Many educators work alone without the guidance of experts in learning or instructional design. For many professors, the classroom is not the place to fail, and they would not try something new if they are not really convinced it will be successful. Therefore, the probability that many professors and teachers embrace failure and are willing to fail when applying an innovative technique is really low.

Steps in the right direction

Some advice can be extracted from the GEEFL on how to face the challenge of applying new group space assignments. The family “Professional Development” has some elements that could help when self-preparing to use in class something new. Base your practice on the most current global research (Gr: PD-5) and be active in local and/or global community of innovative educators (Lc: PD-3; Gc: PD-4) let you stay on top of global best practice. Of course, sound planning and coherent assessment are other key elements to guarantee success. Both Planning for FL and Assessment families from the GEEFL offer solid advice about these two questions. All these are good strategies to apply some new practice with guarantees of success.

In spite of all these previous preparations, innovating is always risky, and if you want to apply new approaches, test alternative instructional techniques or simply propose students’ different assignments, there is always some space for failure that should be tackled with spontaneity and without fear. Not every method is suitable for every situation or context. Neither your credibility or your professional quality should be put in question if your classroom experiments are based on solid research and global best practices.

Editorial Leam
Editorial Team
This article was written by a collaboration of editors and columnists on the FLR editorial team or guest contributors.

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