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February's Corner 2010

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Back to the old drawing board.

I’ve often used the phrase, “Back to the old drawing board.” Whether I think it silently to myself, or announce it to a class of students, it still takes on the same connotation. Sometimes, in the course of a unit of instruction, class discussion or review, a lesson doesn’t go as well as planned, a test too difficult, a question unanswered. I am sure that many of you have found yourselves in a similar situation. And so we need to go back, look at what works and what doesn’t, and proceed to reinvent, create, or produce an entirely new or revamped idea or piece of work. Education, much like life, is an ever changing process. Failure, as a variable, always comes into play.

Personally, I have found that keeping a little notebook or journal with me during class has helped a great deal. It allows me to jot down quick ideas and suggestions, so that I may review when the content presents itself again in subsequent years. Give it a try, as it may work for you.

Educationally, "Back to the Old Drawing Board: is a phrase that provides a great teaching opportunity for my students. I try to make them aware of the hardships many successful people have faced throughout their career. Sharing anecdotes like, Thomas A. Edison discovered 1,500 ways NOT to make a light bulb or Abraham Lincoln lost several state elections before being elected President. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school varsity basketball team. 27 publishers rejected Dr. Seuss's first book. There are many more of these to share. Click here to explore an online list of prominent individuals who found success through failure. 

I’ve recently started work with Josh Waitzkin, author of The Art of Learning, and 2009 NAGC Convention speaker. We are adapting his principle, "Losing to Win: An Investment in Loss," into lessons and activities that help facilitate understanding of this very idea. I’ll post links to the Art of Learning Project on The Teacher’s Corner, as the site is still under construction. In the meantime, I ask you to consider how you might incorporate this principle into your classroom instruction. You can listen to Josh talk about this principle on YouTube, or visit his website, the JW Foundation for more information.

For those of you going back to the drawing board…I wish you well.

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