Modeling Failure Successfully

Last week my district was the victim of two intense DDoS attacks. Our connection to the world was severed. The network team worked tirelessly with our security vendors to try and get us back online. We were successful on Thursday, only to be attacked again the next day.

Across the district, Chromebooks spun and teachers scrambled to come up with an alternative plan. There was plenty of frustration and those who are critical of our FutureForward initiative pointed to this instance as reason why teachers just can’t rely on technology (even though these instances are pretty rare).

IMG_9825On Saturday, we hosted 125 teachers from around East County to our annual TechFest for a day of learning with technology. Luckily, we had put into place a mitigation service that fended off any further attacks. During the TechFest keynote, Jen Roberts went through ten things that she learned going 1-1 in her classroom. While all ten were relevant and helpful to the audience, one stuck with me – we need to model successful failure.

She went on to remind us that kids are watching us. All the time. When we hit a point of frustration because a lesson didn’t go as planned or the network goes out, what do we do? How we react speaks volumes and provides an example to students on what to do when we face an unforeseen challenge.

It just happened that on the first day of last week’s network outage, I was leading one of our GUHSDtech Google Ninja workshops. And the Internet was down. I internalized my frustration and we went a slightly different route. As I listened to Jen talk about modeling successful failure, I wanted to think that all of the teachers in my district took the same approach. 

When things don’t work out as planned in front of 30-40 students, how do you respond? What lesson are you teaching? It might just be more valuable than the actual lesson you had scheduled.