Monday, December 8, 2014

I Said the F Word

I said it.  I said the F word.  I looked my students straight in the eye and said, "I failed you and I am sorry."

For the past six weeks, we have been reading with a pen, or annotating text.  The work students were turning in was not what I thought I would or should be seeing from 6th graders, and I could not figure out why.  

I began reflecting on how I taught this strategy to them.  I have always tried to incorporate the "I do, we do, you do," part of the gradual release of responsibility model.  Wondering if maybe I didn't do enough of the modeling before hand, I decided to try it again on Monday.  I modeled exactly what the strategy entailed.  We annotated together, sharing and displaying questions and comments from students.  Then, I sent them off to complete the assignment.

As they began getting out their assignment on Friday, I heard them talking about the article and saw what they had done.  I was thrilled with what I saw.  I put them into small groups to discuss the article, and I could immediately tell a difference in their discussions.  After we came together for the whole group wrap-up discussion, I asked them how they thought it went.  Hearing positive comments, I asked what made this week so different.  Every class said it was Monday's lesson, explicitly showing them what was expected that made the difference.  I learned that the first time I taught the lesson, I used the "here is how it is done, now go do it" approach -- one I know does not work.  I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide.  I knew I had failed but knew it was a teachable moment.

That is when I said the F word.  I apologized and admitted that I had failed to teach them how to do the strategy and what I expected from them.  

Sometimes even when we know better, we still fail.  But it is through failure that we learn the most.  This is a lesson I won't soon forget.


  1. Thank you for sharing your experience and the valuable reminder.

  2. What am amazing teacher you are.