Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)

Resources on Learning From Failure

Prevent fear of failure from holding students back by targeting strategies that normalize struggle and help children view mistakes as opportunities.

January 5, 2016

Fostering Growth-Friendly Learning Environments

  • How to Help Kids Overcome Fear of Failure: Learn about Martin Covington’s research on failure, and explore three strategies that can help students overcome their fear of failure. (Greater Good, 2013)
  • 5-Minute Film Festival: Freedom to Fail Forward: Watch a curated video playlist about learning from failure, and consider sharing a few of the videos with students to fuel discussion about failure as a part of the learning process. (Edutopia, 2015)
  • Making Friends With Failure: Understand how to reframe failure by modeling vulnerability, focusing on questions and data instead of mistakes, and teaching children about great stories of failure. (Edutopia, 2013)
  • Teaching Students to Embrace Mistakes: Understand how changing students mindsets can help them develop a more constructive relationship with errors. (Edutopia, 2014)

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Activities That Teach About Mistakes

  • It’s a Mistake Not to Use Mistakes as Part of the Learning Process: Try out one or more of these nine ways to use mistakes to allow and promote learning. (Edutopia, 2014)
  • Teaching Empathy Through Design Thinking: Follow five steps to implement design thinking in the classroom; during the prototyping phase, students will learn that it is okay to fail and that it’s possible to learn and grow from mistakes. (Edutopia, 2015)
  • Inspire Your Students to Learn Like Astronauts: Learn how one teacher uses the book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth to prompt students to think about mistakes as great teachers -- links to activity masters are included. (Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, 2015)
  • Crumbled Reminder: Print out an activity idea with instructions for an activity that can help students think about how they can use mistakes. (PERTS Mindset Kit)
  • My Favorite No: Watch a short video that shows how one teacher selects a "favorite no" from multiple wrong answers and ask students to analyze what is right about the solution before delving into what is wrong. (Teaching Channel, 2011)

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Examples From Schools That Work

Edutopia's flagship series highlights practices and case studies from K-12 schools and districts that are improving the way students learn. Below, dive into a real-world example from a school district that creates safe havens for innovation and risk-taking.

Learn how teachers at Albemarle County Public Schools redefine failure as a part of learning, and find out how they build physical spaces and cultures that help students learn from errors.

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