About failure

Sometimes publishing a blog is like interviewing for a job, you always put your best self out there. Think about when you’re asked on a job interview to discuss a personal shortcoming. Admit it, we all say, “I work too hard, really, I’m a workaholic, I never stop, I have zero balance in my life.” Writing a blog can sometimes be like this. You realize that everyone is going to read what you write and you want to put forward only your strengths. But, if you say you believe in the Growth Mindset, which I do, then you have to be willing to put your failures out there as much as your successes.

Learning French 1:1 I-pads

Learning French 1:1 I-pads


Pernille Ripp and Refranz Davis both recently published pieces that addressed this idea. Their blog posts have me thinking about promoting the Growth Mindset by more frequently highlighting FAILURE, rather than successes. I moderated a community discussion forum here along with some of our incredible counseling staff, Todd Benjamin, Danielle Largotta and Joanne Verdino on the Growth Mindset. I think one of the reasons for the high turnout was the brilliant title that Todd chose for the forum: Come Fail with Us. Cool right!?
Some Jericho principals at Citifield

Some Jericho principals at Citifield

Who wouldn’t want to attend a workshop with that title? But Pernille and Refranz have me thinking about how much I embody the growth mindset here in my blog. If the purpose of my blog is for my ideas to hopefully connect with others, enhancing my learning and the learning of others, then what’s to be gained if all I do is discuss highlights? Don’t we learn more from failure than we do from success?

Dr. Martin Brooks, a former superintendent who I admire a great deal, would remind us that those things we should be spending more time on are those little voices in our heads that keep us up at night, the thing you think about when you put your head down on the pillow because it’s something that needs your attention. We all have those voices. For me it’s teaching classes, I don’t do it enough. I could talk about how busy I am as principal, but everybody is busy. We make time for the things that are important. A student asked me the other day if I knew the name of every kid in school. I told him I knew the names of most of the kids in school, but not all of them. He said, “You know the names of a lot of kids in my class because you taught our class earlier in the year. When are you going to come back again Mr. Gately?”

There are so many reasons that the principal needs to spend time in classrooms teaching. Principals need to demonstrate to teachers that they are eager to jump in and learn alongside staff and students while teaching; walk the talk, if you will. Kids need to see the principal as a learner and a teacher.

Google Hangout with school in El Salvador

Google Hangout with school in El Salvador

The principal needs to see kids in the classroom learning environment, not just in the hallways, in his office, the cafeteria or the baseball field. The principal needs to try new things, practice the approaches and strategies that are being discussed at professional development and that he presents at faculty meetings.

I appreciate the inspiration of Pernille and Refranz. After the spring break, I’m going to get into classrooms, teaching more than I have so far this year, because it’s important for me to do. How about you? What are you failing at? We all want to learn from you?

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About dfgately

Middle School Principal Jericho, NY
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2 Responses to About failure

  1. I love this! Thank you so much for sharing with me! This is how we grow!

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