Success After Failing

A few years ago, I was involved in helping create a charter school focused on business. One of our goals was to bring business to education. How would we achieve this? One example is how we transformed what classrooms would look like. We set up individualized computer workstations and private cubicles for students. While it has a lot of potential to help students, it also created too much autonomy for unprepared high school students.

Failures are a part of growth and every failure helps us learn lessons or gives us new direction. As a result of my failures at that project, I became a more realistic goal setter. I also found new direction that helped me become who I am today.

As teachers, we come across many situations where our students face failure. It may be an assignment, an expected behavior, or a standardized test. How do we ensure that each of these experiences results in growth for our students? What kind of response can help turn a seemingly bleak situation into a learning opportunity?

Helping students talk about and analyze the causes of their failure empowers them and enables them to think logically. It helps them understand that their actions eventually add up to a result. This is true of success too. Talking about what helped them succeed will help them repeat those actions, and be successful again. With proper encouragement, success after failing can become a real possibility!

Some food for thought:

  • How do you help students with success after failing?
  • Do you think distance learning creates too much autonomy for students?

Learn more about helping students learn and grow from failures with this online continuing education class: Cognitive Skills – Understanding Learning Challenges.


Ellen Paxton is the Chief Learning Officer of Professional Learning Board. As a two time National Board Certified Teacher, Ellen has successfully designed and delivered research-based and standards-aligned curriculum to help teachers meet their continuing education requirements. Through, and, Ellen has established and maintained partnerships with several accredited universities, higher education institutions, teachers’ unions and state Departments of Education while overseeing curriculum development, alignment, implementation at the classroom level and strategic direction.