By Katie Edde, Dean of Students
How do we teach children to learn from failure? As a parent of two Prep students, I know the temptation to rescue my girls from situations that may lead to failure or disappointment. I don’t want them to be hurt. Rather, I want them to grow up to be self-assured, resilient, independent, and hardworking. As dean of students in the Middle School, I want the same for the growing young people in our teachers’ care.
Someone once told me middle school is a dress rehearsal for life, and it’s true. As students mature and change during these pivotal growth years, they experience challenges that prepare them for adulthood. Bad grades happen, friendships aren’t easy, teams come up short, tempers flare, and tears fall. Educators know to look past the mistakes and see the shining light within each child.
At Prep, we know that our students aren’t perfect, and we prepare ourselves to coach them through their inevitable ups and downs. We work to be solution-oriented. We listen, we soothe, and we encourage our students to stop and reflect. We ask questions like, Why do you think this happened? What impact did it have on those around you? Is an apology owed? How will you do things differently next time, and how can I support you? Both our Advisory and BUDEE programs serve as additional training grounds for reinforcing these lessons, providing a place to safely explore tough situations and positive responses that make clear the good that comes from learning from mistakes.
Praising a child for their effort and improvement is more important to us than the initial failure. Resilience is a learned behavior dependent upon reactions and support from teachers, parents, and mentors in a child’s life. There is something to be said about staying calm and carrying on. Adversity can be a blessing and failure can build wisdom. We coach our students to see that a mistake is not a failure but an opportunity to learn.
To learn more, read Learning from Mistakes: Helping Kids See the Good Side of Getting Things Wrong.