When Things Go Wrong

When Things Go Wrong

Yesterday was a frustrating day, but at the end of the day I had some good life lessons to share with my students:

First thing off, our “specials” teacher had a substitute, and the substitute went to the wrong school. That wouldn’t be so bad if our school wasn’t the one in BFE and her travel time ate into my prep time by 20 mins. Then, we had no substitute for our RSP teacher, and we had to negotiate those waters, knowing that our 5th grade team has a VERY large group of students in need of their extra teacher!

Then, we had our Vision & Hearing Screening which marched into our Math block, so by the time we were done, there was only time for the students to work on their assigned homework (due the following day; already adjusted for the lack of class time).

Needless to say, by 10:30, I was already exhausted; it had definitely been a bumpy start to our day.

With 1/3 of my students out for RSP and our Math time eaten away, I decided to implement “Code Flextime” when students are allowed time to work on whatever needs to get done. I make a list of suggestions for them, and they get to work. I have to say that they were AWESOME: engaged in their tasks, many working collaboratively, and really using their time well. About half way through, we took a 5-minute “GoNoodle” break… a chance to stretch and dance and giggle and enjoy a reward for working so hard.

While they were working, mostly independently, I began the process of updating a Google Slide that I had created over the summer as a template for the students to record their root words for the week. They had been frustrated that, by accident, they were deleting and moving text boxes around; only because of inexperience. This past weekend, Roe attended a breakout session at the EdTechTeam GAFE Summit in San Bernardino about creating master slides. Our new SuperBestFriend, Amanda Taylor (@TeacherAndGeek) sat with us at lunch and schooled us … changing our lives forever as we implement more HyperDocs and other student-driven exploration. We love spending time setting up the infrastructure to send students off into the Wild West of We Want To Learn On Our Own. Now they can do it without hassling with formatting that keeps moving.

Well, even after that private session and spending another 2 hours updating slides that I’d already made to be better and feeling pretty proficient in my new skills, I ran into a roadblock yesterday. I won’t go into the details of what I was doing wrong (that Ro was able to lift me out of during afternoon recess), but it led me into a very good chat with my class – who for some reason LOVE my stories (I think it’s a Grandma thing).

I talked about:

  1. I keep learning. They know that I attend technology events a couple of times a month. I’m often teaching other teachers, but I also get to learn. In this example, I learned from Ms. Jaimes (Roe) who had learned from another teacher. Teachers keep teaching and students keep studenting (thanks, Kid President!). It’s in ALL of us: our natural curiosity keeps us driving to do and learn more. And when I don’t know something, I’m going to do whatever it takes (i.e. bugging Ms. Jaimes to come next door until she stops and helps me) to figure out my dilemma.
  2. Failure drives us. As much as people think it “hurts”. It doesn’t. It frustrates us. And most of us have the GRIT to dive back in and figure it out. As long as we are tenacious in our goals, there will be no failure. Or, as we like to say in our class: “Fail Forward!” – meaning it’s OK to fail, just keep moving. Yes, even when you’ve been doing the same thing (although teaching is NEVER “the same thing”) for 32 years, you fail and you get frustrated. And you try again.


And then I showed them their Root Tree template and they jumped with joy! My perseverance had delivered a Google Slide that made my students SO happy. It’s not perfect (I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to graphic design & my text placement boxes aren’t lined up perfectly), but my precious 10-year-olds don’t care. Several even said, “That’s OK, Ms. O … this is SO much better than before!
And then I thought again about iteration. This summer, I had created the Root Tree slide/idea and was SO stoked about it. I didn’t foresee the trouble the kids would have with accidental movement and deletion of text boxes (although, again, many of them LEARNED about Revision History 😀 ). Now that I learned more, I further advanced that original creation and it’s even more exciting to me.

It’s the little things that are big things, really. And we need to stop and talk about them!


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