From Failure to Innovation

Where does innovative thinking begin?

This school year, one of the biggest challenges I have faced is guiding students through failure. Everyday, every class, at least one of my students faces the teeth gnashing, foot stomping feeling of failure… that feeling of falling short of the set expectations.

While watching my students experience failure, I find myself reflecting on my own experiences with failure. I always go back to art making when I think about changing failure to innovation. Every painting I have ever completed has gone through a moment of failure. For example, a couple years ago, I was working on a painting of a water fountain at dusk that was seriously falling short of anything but a trip to the trash can. My husband’s comment, “Raquel, maybe it is impossible to use a brush to paint water to look like water.” I can still see the ugly childlike painting, and I can still feel my disappointment. But, it was the next step I took that changed failure to innovation. I took a step back and self-reflected. I couldn’t paint water to look the way I wanted. I had to come up with another way to mimic the look of water. In that moment innovation was born from my failure.

As I guide my students through the learning process, I need to remember to teach:

1. Failure is a natural and necessary part of learning and innovative thinking.

2. Failure is not permanent but a part of the learning process.

3. Taking time to self-reflect and process corrective feedback is an integral part of transforming failure to discovery.


Author: raqueldixonblog

I am starting my 13th year as a fifth grade teacher and have a total of 22 years as teacher under my belt. I have a BFA in metal working and a MEd in Special Education. My favorite part of being a teacher is it is a place I can be myself. My classroom feels like home.

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