We have all been there when a lesson falls flat. When your best-laid plans just do not work. Recently, I had a lesson crash and burn. As someone who has been teaching for over twelve years, I am always humbled when a lesson goes that far south. It also gives me a moment to reflect on how it can be improved for next time. That saying, “fail forward,” always comes to mind. This got me thinking about the four times I bail on a lesson or activity.
Materials That Work
I have no issue spending time to create or collect materials. As a librarian curation is a part of my job, but what I have realized is that when the materials take exorbitant amounts of time to create or collect it is time to bail and choose a new direction. There is probably an easier way to do that same thing and some genius librarian who has figured it out.
Don’t Forget the Purpose
Sometimes it is easy to get wrapped up in the bells and whistles that lessons can include. There is so much stuff that you can add to a lesson. I have to remind myself that some of the best lessons are the ones that are simple. This is not to say that I never try something new to engage my students, but it is important for me to keep the objective in mind. If the purpose has been lost it is time to bail.
Keep the Excitement
There are lessons that I repeat from one year to the next because they work well to teach the curriculum; however, when I can no longer get excited about a lesson or activity that means it is time to bail. My students will not be engaged if I am not all in with them.
In the Middle of It All
If in the middle of the lesson I can tell it is going south it is never too late to change course. Bringing the students back together and reviewing or modeling can sometimes be enough to move forward. If that does not work you can always grab a good book and read-aloud!
Failure is a part of learning. When a lesson implodes it often leads to something better. There is always room for growth so it is important to celebrate the things that are working and the things that are not. That way can always “fail forward.”
Author: Kelly Hincks
I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a school librarian for the past eleven years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a school librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, Michigan Association of School Librarians (MASL).