“Oh my god! I just failed the math quiz!!!” These are the words you’d hear me cry out when handed back an evaluation. My eyes would search across the paper filled with red markings to only see the final grade as it stares back at me with disapproval. With a bit of hope, I take out a calculator to tally up marks, only realizing it was added up correctly. With guilt and despair, I condemn this paper to the back of my binder, never to be seen again. A little inside voice says, “Study harder and do more practice questions.” I realize this has never benefitted me because without reviewing my teachers’ comments and those specific elements that need attention and improvement, I am likely to repeat the same mistakes. So, I have decided to choose the strategy of Learning from Failure. This is a constant process of revising the flaws of an ongoing task to achieve success.
Let’s start with my courses, the majority of which involve the 3 sciences. Since science teachers do not allow students to keep their test papers, in these courses I can easily avoid facing my mistakes — out of sight out of mind! This situation and my attitude towards failure — not addressing my mistakes and instead, hiding them at the back of my binder has had a negative toll. I realize this is a problem and is a barrier to correcting my weaknesses.
After the next evaluation, I want to ensure that I have a proper plan to follow so I do not repeat my mistakes. The plan will need to be modified according to the type of course. However, reflecting upon the spaghetti and marshmallow activity, I realize that being proactive with revisions does not begin after the mark distribution but rather begins when the task starts. As I start to understand how I can benefit from this strategy, I realized its application is not limited to quizzes and tests but can also be applied for assignments.
When given an assignment, I want to ensure that I’ll receive sufficient feedback from my classmates and teacher. This can be done by recording due dates for rough drafts so it’s ready for the peer editing session. The comments gained from this activity can help me identify areas to work on and avoiding the result of receiving my assignment with unexpected errors and an unhappy mark.
Although science teachers’ do not allow you to take home quizzes and tests, you can request a session outside of class time to review the necessary questions. I will take advantage of this during my lunch time. This is the best time as my first class begins at the second period and I did note that not all teachers’ can stay after school.
Meanwhile, math and English courses usually permit students to take home tests. For English, I notice there is a limit to the commentary a teacher can add in the margins on a page. Hence I think in order to strengthen my writing skills, I should first brainstorm alternative ideas for what could have been written instead. Then I could share the proposal with my teacher as a starting base to work from. This way I am not just being a lemming and following directions without my own ideas but rather developing problem-solving skills which will be applicable for future encounters.
I noticed my errors in math primarily fall into three categories: carelessness, the improper use of rules and diagrams. Carelessness is self-explanatory and can be prevented by paying more attention when doing practice questions. The improper use of rule refers to the misapplication of a rule for the function. Visualizing diagrams refer to being able to draw out the structure as described in the question. Being able to identify the type of mistake will definitely identify a focus when doing practice questions.
Now that I am aware of specific weaknesses that have to be worked on, I will begin my study periods ahead of time.
My final goal is to avoid reoccurring mistakes and being able to receive constructive feedback beforehand. According to the proposed plan, the effectiveness of this strategy will be noticeable as my work progresses. My end goal is to have a product that’s gone through a series of revisions and improvements that have avoided the common mistakes from previous work.
My critical moves involve acknowledgment, initiation, and application. Let’s compare this process to the analogy of getting a car started. Acknowledging my mistakes rather than blaming the teacher is the first step to accepting criticism. There is a difference from being told what I did wrong compared to recognizing the error and seeking advice on how to improve. It may be hard at first to accept criticism so I will wait until the following day to look over the entire evaluation at least twice. With the key to an open mind let’s move onto turning on the engine.
Taking the initiative to ask means scheduling time outside of playing Frisbee during lunch. After reviewing the evaluation, I can then request my teacher to go over it at lunch sometime during the week. It may be hard to get started by changing my mindset to face my mistakes so I will surround myself with positive energy. This will happen when I’m demonstrating an interest in improving my work with the teacher during extra help.
Although I may think the job is done once the meeting is over, I cannot guarantee the all the feedback will be remembered for the next assignment. This is crucial in order to finally press the pedal and drive towards success. One solution is to dedicate a small journal for each course. Here is where I will write a reflection, which can be in point form to briefly outline the types of mistakes, my teachers’ comments and the steps I will take to improve on it. This will be a source of reference for improvements and a great guide to track my progress. To make this process even more enjoyable, I can try bullet journaling. Not only is bullet journaling is also used for point form notes, the templates are aesthetically pleasing which makes the feedback easier to look at. I already have a few colored pens and extra notebooks so I’m ready to get started!
I will shrink the change by recognizing it as just another task on my agenda. I have a habit of writing things to do in my agenda and feel uneasy if it’s not done. When assigned a task, I will ask my teacher on what day we will have a work period and when our progress will be reviewed. Marking these dates down as mini due dates along with the lunch meetings will push me to get things done. Instead of putting the tests at the back of my binder, I will move them to the front and include them in my review material. This will help eliminate my tendency to avoid confronting my past mistakes. Studying two days ahead of my normal schedule will accommodate that extra focus on my weaknesses. Jotting the study days down immediately in my agenda after the test date is announced will stop me from delaying the study time.
As the feedback journal may be a new piece of work to get used to and hard to prioritize time for it, I will do so during the meeting with my teacher. I believe I’ll be more inclined to do so as this is similar to taking notes in class. Additionally, the information written down will be accurate compared to my memory of what was said if I listed it down on another date.
When studying for a test, I tend not to look back because it discourages me as it pokes at my insecurities of doing poorly on a test. However, if I am with a teacher during extra help, the situation is no longer depressing and I’m not neglecting my mistakes. Instead, I’m focusing on improving and how to be successful. I feel like I’m getting closer to my goal.
After this blog post, I realized this is my first step to tackling procrastination and learning from my past failure to resolving my mistakes. There have been so many ignored resources and factors; from teachers’ extra help to the placements of tests in my binder. I recognize the constant mindset of reviewing the way I’m working along with developing problem solving skills is a life skill. For instance, the essays required for the upcoming supplementary applications for University is only one of the many applications beyond quizzes and assignments. Being proactive even with the small reminders in my agenda and being open minded regarding feedback will definitely help me reach success.