"If you fail, never give up because F.A.I.L. means "First Attempt In Learning." A P J Abdul Kalam. Creating a commitment to and a passion for lifelong learning is central to what teachers do and I love this quote that links failure with learning. I also find Michael Jordan’s quote about failure very inspiring:
Failure is hard: it dents our ego and impacts our resilience. Significant failures can be hard to recover from and for this reason, both attitude and response to failure is key. Whilst our students make demonstrably positive progress in learning from their academic mistakes and failures, we don’t see as much consistent evidence that all students are as good at learning from other perceived ‘failures’. By this, I mean failure to have a certain body shape or skin type; failure to dress the ‘right’ way fit in with peers, and failure to make those that mean the most to them proud.
In the pod, Robbins was speaking about how harshly we judge ourselves and how this sets us up for failure. She described how first thing in the morning we get up, look in the mirror, brush our teeth and start criticising ourselves or alternatively we ignore ourselves and start thinking about our day. Her challenge is to connect the daily habit of brushing our teeth with a new, positive habit: high fiving oneself in the mirror! Her premise is that we need to establish a positive, forgiving, accepting and supportive relationship with ourselves, similar to that of a close or best friend, ie someone who loves us.
My immediate reaction was skeptical and, interestingly, mirrored that of the hosts of the podcast who come from a similar cultural background to me. In the spirit of being open-minded I decided to experiment with the idea. As someone who does not tend to ‘high five’ on a regular basis, I ended up with a compromise and aim to give myself a huge grin in the mirror each morning. I don’t always manage it: sometimes I forget or sometimes I am in a rush, but it is something I can recommend as just one strategy to help ensure I am at my very best and able to deal with the day ahead.
If this has piqued your interest, I highly recommend listening to the pod. Robbins’ language is quite ‘colourful’ at times, so you may want to listen first before deciding to play the pod for younger children. If any parents or students do end up daily high fiving in the mirror, or even grinning at themselves, I’d be interested to hear if you think it’s a useful strategy.
Head of Secondary