Your February Issue: How to Embrace Failure & Teach Grit!

Kim Tranell

Dear Teachers,


I just checked our staff computer server, and here’s what I found in our February folder: a combined twenty-six drafts of the six stories in this issue, four failed cover ideas, and more rejected layout designs than I care to mention. Why am I telling you this? It all plays to the theme of this month’s non-fiction feature on the importance of failure, which is guaranteed to make your students think differently about their own shortcomings.


The true beauty of this article, however, is that it will appeal to everyone in your class—from the status-obsessed perfectionist (whose fear of failure is holding her back from pursuing new passions), to your most academically challenged student (who let one test score long, long ago define his value and self-worth). This is all thanks to the feature's tireless author, Jessica Press, who researched her heart out on the topics of success and failure—chewing up complex psychological concepts like grit and growth mindset and spitting them out into a lively, celebrity-laced package that will truly transform your student's outlook on life. 


Here's a sampling of the support package that will help you bring this topic to life in your classroom. As always, subscribers can log in to the story page to find even more teaching resources, like vocabulary worksheets, critical-thinking questions, and carefully-curated videos!


1. An Illuminating Cover Story



To be completely honest, I wasn't sure we would be able to translate the concept of grit into a piece that teens would actually want to read. But in The League of Extraordinary Loserswriter Jessica Press proved me wrong! You and your students will be delighted by the real-world examples of grit she collected, from Michael Jordan's high school experiences to the tech world's FailCon conferences. 


2. A Fascinating Failure Résumés Slideshow



What if we celebrated our failures the same way we do our successes? That's exactly what Princeton professor Johannes Haushofer—whose actual CV runs at about seven pages—asked himself one day. The result was this much-shared and celebrated CV of failures that he published and shared on Twitter last year (it has now been updated to include his newest meta-failure: "This darn CV of failures has received way more attention than my entire body of work," he wrote.) 


We were incredibly inspired by his idea, so to hammer home the article's take-away message, we've compiled an enlightening slideshow of Failure CVs from highly successful adults. It makes a fantastic bellringer—project it to have a pre-reading discussion about what might be learned from mistakes, rejections, and disappointments! (And psst—the slideshow is a brand new multimedia feature for our site. I would welcome your ideas of how we can use it in fresh, meaningful ways to enhance your teaching experience!)


3. A New Strategy (and Activity!) for Success



Perhaps the higlight of this story (for me at least) is the infographic on the final page. It provides students with clear, actionable steps for thinking about—and learning from—a failure in their own lives, plus it provides models of this sort of reflection from real teens! When your class is done reading, I enthusiastically encourage you to engage them in the WRITE AND REFLECT activity on p. T5 in the February Teacher's Guide


First, pass out the FAILURE RELECTION handout. Then, allow students to use it to prepare for their very own FailCon, where they can choose to take a big risk by sharing their experiences of learning and growing with the entire class. This activity combines so many of the core themes of The League of Extraordinary Losers—accepting mistakes, learning from them, and not shying away from new challenges because of a fear of failure!


I hope that you'll share your feedback with me, both on this story and the entire issue. Don't forget to check out our other Ideabook posts this month, especially this brilliant activity that will help you teach teens to understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships






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