I just finished reading a wonderful book called Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown. A special shout out to Kayla Plazier for the gift, sharing your learning is pivotal for moving forward and this has really helped me move forward. While the book’s focus is how being vulnerable transforms our lives, one of the key elements is looking at shame and how it has so much impact on our lives. Brene’ relates a story when she was asked to present at a TED conference and she just felt that she wasn’t going to do so well. She dug deep and presented and even went as far as sharing her fear with the crowd. One of the biggest fears of people is public speaking and Brene shares that feeling with millions. In fact, more people are afraid of public speaking than death . . . as Jerry Seinfeld points out, that means many people would rather be in the casket at a funeral than giving the eulogy! Jerry, you big joker!
But alas, I digress. The point I took most from this revelation of Brene’ Brown’s is that we need to dig deep and find the strength to be vulnerable if we are to conquer our fears. You know what? That is especially true for teachers and parents, those who most influence the lives of the next generation. Parents are great at showing their weaknesses to their children. Why? There isn’t much of a choice! Kid see you the most often and at your most vulnerable. Kids see their parents as flawed in the course of their real lives; stepping out of the shower, stubbing a toe and letting out an expletive, snoring in bed. Kids see parents as no one else does, human.
This isn’t always the same for how our students see us as teachers though is it? When a student enters the classroom, often they see a well manicured professional, in an organized space with all the wisdom of the degree on the wall. They don’t see the torn stained sweats you mark in. They don’t see the piles of laundry that lie on the floor of your bedroom. They don’t see the poor grade that may stick out on your University transcript. They see a polished professional and they idolize that image. Is that the image that most helps our students, however? I going to suggest not likely.
As we strive to teach our kids to take chances and learn from mistakes, to be resilient in the face of adversity, we need to show them what it means to fail and to get back up. Some of my most fond memories of my mother, the greatest teacher in my life, was of the mistakes she made and her willingness to laugh them off and try again. Time and time again, she was willing to fail and get back up, never taking her failure as a sign that she was weak, simply as a sign that she needed to try again. Great modeling for a resilient family. So, how do we model failure in the classroom? Do we allow ourselves to be flawed in our classrooms and be vulnerable enough to fail in a lesson? Do we model perseverance in the face of failure? If a child never sees a role model fail and bounce back, how do they learn that is what makes strong people. As Michael Jordon says, “I have failed time and time again. That is why is succeed.”
Keep on learning,