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Try to Fail: Project 180, Day 176



As I look back on the trail that now fades behind me as I come to the end of this year’s 180 journey, I feel the above graphic reflects my pursuit of, if not constant, then–at least–consistent improvement. Fortunately, I have improved, progressed a lot over the past two decades, but even so, I feel as if I have a long ways to go to get to where I want to be as a teacher.

I tried a lot of “stuff” this year, and as I failed with that stuff, I learned from that stuff. Consequently, my biggest try was perhaps my biggest fail–for some. As I have already stated in previous posts, I never intended to continue the give-em-all-an-A approach. I did it to jump from the edge, a radical first step to take grades off the table. And while for many of my kids this was a liberating, largely successful move, for others it was a leap too far. The move was too radical, the new was too unfamiliar. For them, the absence of grades was not liberating; it was debilitating, for they did not know how to fully function without the compliance-creating conditions of traditional grading. And so, consequently, their experience with 180 was less than I hoped it would be. And while I cannot go back and change the past, I can shape the future. And so, with this particular fail, I have, indeed, learned. And, as such, I have already made major changes to my approach next year, which I believe will not only continue to produce the proficiency levels we achieved this year but will also provide a better structure for individual growth. I have high hopes for the select-and-defend a grade approach next year. Looking back, this, I believe, would have better served those who never really embraced their gifted A’s this year. We live. We learn.

Importantly, this new approach is an approach, not the¬†approach. I have not arrived. Many roads to travel. Many tries and many fails lie ahead. Thank goodness, else I wouldn’t know how to progress. Keep trying. Keep failing. Keep moving.

Happy Tuesday, all.



2 Replies to “Try to Fail: Project 180, Day 176”

  • Through my experience, I feel like it takes about three years before I feel like I’ve got something down.

    Year 1 – make attempt but screw it all up.
    Year 2 – address the bugs and tidy up.
    Year 3 – iron out the wrinkles.
    Year 4 – feeling pretty confident.
    Year 5 – time to make another major shift in pedagogy.

    When I mentor a student teacher I tell them the same thing.

    However, there is something to a two grade system. I would love to go to a pass/fail and provide a narrative of learner’s strengths and weaknesses. We all have room for growth. Having a single letter grade doesn’t allow me the opportunity to share with my students the true potential I see in each of them.

    • I, too, have often imagined a two-grade system. Each learner a story in which we get to contribute to the narrative. If only…

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