Fail better.

First day of the new term today.

It only took about 15 minutes for one of the students to declare I was a shit teacher. And only a further 30 seconds for two others to join in.


They had an assessment today. We did the work for it before the break. We went over it in the tutorials before the break. I gave them handouts to look at over the break, and even wrote home to their parents–enclosing the handouts and asking the parents to get involved since the student needed to know the opinions of an adult–all to prepare them for an assessment today.

Six students turned up (two of them late). Three declared they didn’t want to do the test. One denied I had ever mentioned anything about it (despite my clear recollection of telling him about it on the last day before the break). And one declared he didn’t understand any of it (unsurprising, as he hadn’t attended for the previous four weeks).

So yeah, I’m the shit teacher. Getting it down in writing, it looks ridiculous. But at the time, despite trying to laugh it off, I took what they said to heart. I felt like a shit teacher.

So for much of this evening I’ve moped about feeling crap. But I’m past that now. I’ve got some fresh ideas for the next time the class sees me (and hopefully most of them will show up!). I’m reminded of the quote by Samuel Beckett, which I think I need to get tattooed onto me so I can remember it.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

Next week, when I see the class again, it may all go wrong. I may get called a shit teacher again. And I may fail. But I’ll fail better, week after week, and if I fail well enough, they’ll pass.

And that’s all I really want.

One thought on “Fail better.”

  1. Sadly it seems to be a trend with unmotivated or disaffected students to blame the teacher. I can think of several students who blame their own failings on everyone else and yes, it’s hard and yes, it’s easy to take to heart but you can only ever try your best, which it sounds like you’re doing. They have to meet you halfway!

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