Learning From Letting Go, Failure, and Reflection

by mrsapia

Failure is powerful. Why? How? The key is reflection.

Through failure and reflection we grow. Holding up the mirror to ourselves and not being afraid to admit faults and errors can enable significant growth.

This year I have undergone a powerful shift in my teaching pedagogy. I learned how to relinquish “control” and truly instill trust in my student’s ability to think for themselves and/or cooperatively. (That’s not to say in years past I did not practice this, but not to the extent I have this year.) For example, I am not afraid to tell students when I don’t know the answer to a question, or ask them for their input to make lessons more creative. This was empowering both for them and me, and I have not looked back since.

Learning to Let Go.

Take for example Everyday Math centers. During a grade level meeting earlier in the year, the idea of implementing math centers was brought up. I was very adamant about not incorporating them into my classroom. What’s wrong with how I teach math now? Where will I find the time to meet all the varying groups of students and their needs? Who will support me? How will I ensure all students are on task and focused? An overwhelming feeling took over without fully thinking it through.

I took a step back and a deep breath.


I began to think to myself, I have rituals and routines already set up and students are very capable of making appropriate transitions around the classroom. I knew my understanding of the math curriculum was strong. I always arrive at school with plenty of time to properly plan to ensure all students can be successful.

Oh, I get it! The remaining barrier was myself and letting go.

That’s when the decision was made. The next day I jumped into the deep end of the pool.


Since that fateful meeting earlier in the year, I have not looked back. Math centers are an integral part of my routine. Day after day, I reflect about what was successful and what can be improved in a very systematic way. I have mentally and verbally acknowledged mistakes made along the way and rectified them. Guess what? More mistakes happened, reflection took place, and the cycle repeated itself.

I recently had a conversation with a colleague and we discussed how our year has progressed. The animation and hand motions (yep, I’m Italian 🙂 I was exhibiting were of pure excitement. I mentioned that I felt like a new teacher and how I’ve learned so much this year from letting go, failing, and reflecting.

True growth for the WIN!