Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Coming out ;) And learning from failure

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I am just writing this post to recount a couple of funny incidents that happened to me over the past couple of days 😉

I’ve had a couple of people “come out” to me as people who had been reading my blog but never responding online 😉

It was very cute, really, because whenever I write about “lurking” (apologies to the folks who have strong feelings against that word) I feel awful that I am talking about someone who’s unlikely to respond and let me know how they feel about my talking about them. Funny awful, though, not awful awful.

So one of them is my new colleague at work, and I think it’s cool that she’s getting to know me a little here (but yeah, I am not getting to know her yet – we’ll work on that) and the other is one of my former students.

escaping criticism

Escaping Criticism by Brett Jordan via Flickr CC-BY

The former student one was one of the most beautiful incidents in my week, month, year! My former student will be teaching this semester the same course I taught her a few years ago!!! I called her when she messaged me about this and told her I was proud of her as if my own child was now going to college 😉

But let me put this in perspective – my own student is close to my age and her oldest child is almost as old as mine 😉

My former student is a teacher herself, and a wonderful one. She was telling me something about how I helped her learn something in my class (well she took like 4 courses with me in all, but she was talking about the second one I taught her), and I told her that she was always a TEACHER in my class, that she was a self-motivated learner and her presence in the class taught me and the other students all the time.

I’m so proud of her and I am sure she will be a wonderful teacher of other teachers (I already know she’s a wonderful teacher of children). And I have also observed her “train” teachers at her school – but that is not the same as teaching teachers.

And my former student is my friend. She was my friend when she was my student, and I definitely count her among my friends now. How lucky am I to have students like her in my classes? Not every student is like that: a self-motivated learner (and you know, as their teacher, that they’d thrive without you anyway, but they still make you feel good about yourself because they’re as enthusiastic about your class as you are) and a friend…

So yeah, it’s kinda cool that she noticed some of my blogposts from my facebook wall and looked at them 😉

It was really cool talking to her on the phone last night, immediately after I’d finalized edits on an upcoming article of mine where I… I talk about all sorts of things that did NOT work out for me in my classroom… and even though that article (coming out soon on Hybrid Pedagogy) is dear to my heart, I keep asking myself if I am over-confident, brave, or stupid to be publishing an article like that – telling the world about everything I’ve tried but failed to do in my classes – but that’s what I meant when I responded to Steve’s comment earlier – that failure can be a key part of learning and growth. And that’s why I wrote that article… Told my former student that I wanted her to read it – partly so she wouldn’t feel bad about what wouldnt work out for her, partly so she’d keep learning from her mistakes… I’m not really sure if we are capable of learning from other people’s mistakes, or if we just like knowing that others fail, too 🙂

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