Making Failure Survivable

I made a tough decision yesterday, one I hope was the right one. I’ve been planning an inquiry-based unit on Astronomy since November, one I envisioned would culminate in an Astronomy Exhibition Night where all the students’ family and friends could come to school and see the work my students put into building models of our solar system. It would be a huge undertaking, involving student-proposed and created models that ranged from food, to crater making, to original dances built upon the way planets revolve and rotate.

However, I planned for this unit to be four weeks long, and now I only have three weeks. I’d planned to have all the resources my students would need to be successful in this inquiry available last week, and now it’s the week I need to begin this unit, and the resources aren’t ready. I’m questioning whether this is worth a number of late nights and stressed-out weeks that it would entail.

Therefore, I made the decision to begin with baby-steps. Instead of making models for an Astronomy Exhibition Night, my students will create models that they post online. Instead of doing full-on inquiry with student generated questions and research, I’ll break the Astronomy Unit understandings into smaller chunks, and focus my students on the inquiry within each three to five day period.

I’m pretty broken about this, I’ve been convincing myself for weeks that I should do the more ambitious project, but I think this is the right decision.

Now I have the focus to really make my tutoring system better and better. Now I have the focus to plan ahead for a joint project based learning unit on Geology that I’ll do with my math teacher. Now I have the focus to become a better inquiry teacher in the little things. And, when I fail, which will invariably happen, that failure is survivable.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Mylene says:

    Great title 😉 Your decision-making process here makes a lot of sense to me. When a giant pile of work looms and deadlines go by, that’s a sure sign that it’s time to break it into smaller pieces (or at least, that’s what I tell my students… I should follow my own advice more often). Also, having several similar small chunks in a row will give you a chance to experiment, learn, and immediately “reboot” the process to try it again with your new knowledge. Keep us posted!

    1. Thanks Mylene. Your encouragement means a lot to me!

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