Failure as an Opportunity for Growth (Part 1)

Being able to think, learn and make good choices independently remains one of the most important skills that your students can acquire.​ While “spoon feeding” students can sometimes offer the most direct route to observable progress, it is possible to support academic, behavioral and social-emotional development in ways that allow for independence without sacrificing growth, outcomes or results​.

There are three important factors required in order for our children to become independent.

  1. Teachers and their students may need to adjust their mindset so that failure is viewed as an opportunity for growth.​
  2. Teachers should nurture the conditions in their classroom that empower students to become more independent.​
  3. Teachers must be prepared for the inevitable emotional distress which comes from increasing demands for independence.​
  4. Failure is best viewed as an opportunity for growth and to learn.

Teachers may fear that there will be long-term consequences if their students fails to meet academic, behavioural, social-emotional or other expectations such as missing out on future opportunities. They also often worry about the impact of failure on their student’s self-esteem.​

Teachers may also fear that student failure will be perceived as a reflection on their own instructional abilities.​

Students may fear not being able to live up to their own and other’s expectations and not measuring up to their peers​


  • Be aware of your own fears as a teacher.
  • Redefine failure with your students as an opportunity for them to learn about themselves and build the important skill of perseverance​
  • Use case studies to contextualize the benefits of failure including your own struggles and how you eventually triumphed.
  • Provide positive feedback for the process of learning from one’s mistakes.

Deborah Hinds-Nunziata

B.Ed, M..Ed Registered Psychologist I have worked in schools and private practice as a teacher and a School Psychologist for over 35 years.

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