My Epic Fail {Growth Mindset Guest Post}

Growth mindset. There's a lot of talk about it amongst schools and workplaces at the moment. We are being encouraged to train our minds to embrace challenges, look on the positive side, find solutions and problem solve. The simplest example that comes to mind is to add the word "yet" at the end of the statement "I can't do it". 

Today's guest blogger is Bec from Square Peg Tutoring (you know that expression - square peg round role?). Well Bec is all about helping those square pegs to learn in their own way and at their own pace through her tutoring business. She's sharing a really personal story from her past experiences in the classroom - her "epic fail". Something I'm sure we have all found ourselves doing at one stage or another. I applaud her for so bravely sharing and for allowing me to publish her story here and share it with my community of teacher types. 

Welcome Bec.




My Epic Fail,

I always thought my first blog piece would be a smug commentary on some great success of mine… Something I had achieved.

I would never have predicted it would be about a huge failure…
Not even an "oh well you tried your best"  or "the test was rigged" sort of failure.
I failed a person…
I failed a child.

Have you ever done something so cringe-worthy that the thought of it makes you bellow “Ugh” so loudly the toddler sitting in the bottom of the shower looks up at you quizzically?

This feeling has hit me regularly over the years and the origin remains the same.

The origin is - the bright, sensible, conscientious boy sitting red-faced, embarrassedly hunched, his arms protectively encircling his exercise book containing the weekly spelling test…

This boy was articulate, gentle, mature, a great friend to his mates and dyslexic.

I was a fresh-out-of-uni teacher who liked Taylor Swift (hang on, I still do) and caramel milkshakes. I had good intentions, great lesson plans and scratch and sniff stickers that said ‘Berry Good’.

So how could I go wrong?

We are a society that struggles with the concept of failure. It is uncomfortable. Embarrassing.
If you perceive you are ‘failing’ at something- you're unlikely to proudly shout your mistakes from the roof tops.

If you're anything like (the old) me you're more likely to abandon the task after ‘failing’- dismissing it as something “I’m just not good at- some people are just born good drawers” … !?

Yes... I've actually said that. Seen a toddler's artwork lately Bec?

The problem is not the failure- its the self-talk that goes with it. The ‘why bother… its too hard’ or the ‘Im just not [insert glaring flaw here]’.

Failure is often interpreted as a reflection of some ‘deficit’ within us. A fixed, innate design flaw.

So where does that leave our kids?

Failure remains a dark, muddy entity worthy of avoiding at all costs. Or is it?

What if… right from the beginning… We celebrated failure?

Any self-respecting mum owns a pair of Spanx, right? From now on, while you're admiring your suddenly transformed figure from every angle - give a thought to their inventor Sara Blakely. Every week her father would ask her and her brother to share a failure at the dinner table. If they had one, he would high five them and ask them about it. If they hadn't failed at something he would be disappointed.

Celebrate failure? I'm not talking about ‘you-can-do-no-wrong’ cheerleading for your child. I'm talking about changing the dialogue before it even starts.  Creating and shaping that little voice in your child’s head before they even hear it!

When your baby slips slightly down rope ladder at the park try replacing "Aww never mind" with "You’re working hard at that".

When your toddler throws a frustration fit because he cant put his own socks on instead of "Keep trying" how about "Some things are hard… aren't they?"

When your child says “I can’t.” Ask them to  add “yet”.

So back to my failure.

I failed to celebrate mistakes in the classroom.
I failed to create an environment where no-one was ashamed to be wrong.
I failed to recognise that everyone has a unique perspective they can use to succeed.

I originally hoped I would gain ‘closure’ from writing this blog. Though, I have realised as I write this what I have gained is further insight. And its this - my failure has given me a fire, a hunger, a desire to help kids re-frame their thoughts around learning.

So, I am going to share my failure and use the unique perspective its given me to be better. I am going to remind myself mistakes are important.

And yes - I did track down the boy (now a heavily pierced teen) and for what its worth - apologised. He was gracious.

So if you’re 'failing' in your house to celebrate mistakes - YAY- This is your opportunity to step-up and meet this challenge!

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Thanks for reading. My name is Bec and I'm on maternity leave from my position as teacher and school counsellor in the mainstream school system. This story has been sitting with me for 8 years now and I am finally ready to share it. I now have an interest in kids with learning disabilities (‘learning difference’ I prefer) and run a business called Square Peg Tutoring. I have designed the stickers pictured to help teachers and parents change the dialogue around learning right from the beginning. They are a tangible reminder to use growth dialogue around learning so you’re never tempted by the ‘You’re berry clever’ scratch and sniff stickers again!



You can find Bec's website here, Facebook here and Instagram here.  

HUGE thanks to Bec for sharing her story - it certainly makes me look back on my first year out and how much I've grown and changed since then. Once you get into the swing of adopting a growth mindset, it just becomes second nature and part of your everyday language. 

Do you have a story to share? I'd love to hear from you.
Lauren x

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