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FAIL - First Attempt In Learning

We are going to be looking a rephrasing or re framing of a certain word that will change mindset when taking part in certain challenges


What do I mean by that?


When people take part in team challenges or problem solving tasks the idea is that we are creating an experience which requires your students to work with their peers and puts pressure on certain skills like communication, time management, co operation and leadership. It is trying to get them to display qualities that will help them excel in their personal life, in their school life and in their professional life when they leave school.


The re framing I am going to talk about is a famous quote and it was by A P J Abdul Kalam and he was an aerospace scientist and a statesman from India and he quoted" That if you fail, never give up, as fail means first attempt in learning "


First Attempt in learning - a lot of people become frustrated, they become angry when the challenge isn't completed on the first attempt. They feel like they have failed, they can't carry on as they hate failure, they hate the feeling, they get frustrated, you start to see a blame game going on and it becomes difficult for people to re engage.


With this simple re framing we are trying to change peoples mindsets. We can do this by making them see that fail means first attempt in learning. We are getting them to see at every single point they are learning and the best way of learning is through experience.


Every time you do something and it doesn't go as well as expected you have picked up a really useful lesson as long as you recognise it is a lesson and implement what that lesson is trying to teach us.


So if you are trying to pair this with a team challenge, you can pick something that is quite difficult and when some one doesn't achieve it you can pause them and say " at the moment you have had your first attempt, it doesn't mean it is your last attempt, it doesn't mean you have failed but you have started the momentum, you have started the challenge" " What did we learn from that?"


Your balance may not have been too good, we need some support, there will be something we can recognise. Why do we have to restart? For this reason. What can we put into position to help us not make the same mistake again? We have activated our first attempt in learning, it was our first attempt.


It is now time for us to take a step back and think, why did it not work so well? We can learn from that and we can implement this in our next attempt.


It is such a brilliant saying and when it is presented right, especially if we can embed this inside our team challenges or problem solving activities we can use it to guide us and create a better mindset for our students.


He also said another thing which is - The end is not the end

End means - Effort Never Dies

This is a brilliant thing to pair with the FAIL model because we only truly fail when we have given up, thrown in the towel and say we are not going to do it anymore. That is the fail as we haven't continued to learn and improve ourselves.


Even if it is the end for now, end is never the end because the effort never dies, we can come back and revisit it later on in the day or we can have a break and come back it again.


If we try and implement these two re frames and re phrases to develop this mindset along with a team challenge it makes it resonate with your students.


You will be able to front load a session introducing the idea of FAIL and END. You can run the activity or challenge multiple times if you see people becoming disengaged or frustrated, maybe some conflict in the group, you can elaborate on the fail and the end, Walk them through it and have a discussion with them. They can be key review points when you get to the end of the session.


After the session when you are doing the guided review, peer to peer review or self reflection you can then start to draw out the learning and go back over the fail and the end. Try and get them to recognise when fail might have happened, how many attempts did they have? How did they highlight the learning? What did they do to implement and make sure they don't make the same mistakes again?

Go through those processes so you can cement this into them.


You can provide this over multiple sessions, it doesn't just have to be in team challenges or problem solving tasks, it can be in sports, difficult lessons, use in different genres if you keep on implementing fail and end, that's when you are going to get their mindset to change as it is going to take repetition to cement it in.


It is really useful for them to get the idea that fail is just the first attempt at learning and everything is progress. It doesn't matter if you go two steps forward or ten steps forward you are going to learn something along the way. It is recognising that learning is so important and if we don't recognise it , we just breeze past it and think we have messed up and don't start again and we don't take the learning from it, that is a shame, we need to keep that going.


Make sure the effort is continuously there because when we stop that is when we have truly failed. Whether that is a natural end to the course and you have picked up all the learning you want to from that session but there is always something we can learn from it. Whether it is that you have finished that team challenge and you don't want to do that challenge again, it is still those learning principles that we need to put the effort in and want to continuously develop whether it will be leadership, communication, collaboration, trust or personal growth. Any of those, they are going to happen in the next team challenge or problem solving activity that you do.


If you don't do another team challenge there will be things that happen naturally in life whether it is new jobs, new classes, new schools or new relationships , all of these things will use those skill sets. It is trying to picture it as "i'm not very confident in front of others" No you are not confident in front of others at the moment, but you are working on it and every day you are getting better and better. What learning points can we take from that? what learning framework can we put in to support you to get better as we need to continuously put the effort in?


I have been using this and experimenting with this model when running some sessions and it seems to be resonating with them really well as it is so simple and easy to learn. It is trying to start to embed that learning.









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