Armstrong teachers talk lessons from failure in panel discussion

Ranielle Moore listens to Cori Neff discuss failure in teaching during the Armstrong teacher panel

The importance of picking yourself up after failure – especially in teaching – was the theme of this semester’s Armstrong Teacher Educator panel. This year’s Armstrong educators, teachers from a range of experience and grade levels, all spoke about how failures great and small had impacted their decisions in the classroom. They also encouraged the audience of School of Education students to embrace the challenge of teaching, especially during their first and second years.

“Teachers try to hold themselves to a standard that isn’t realistic. Failure is just part of what happens, and it’s how you react to it that makes such a difference,” Eric Johnson, a social studies middle school teacher at Northview Middle School in Indianapolis.

Mindy Miller, an elementary school teacher at Forest Glen Elementary School in Indianapolis, said she has many stories about failure, and reminded the audience failure is not the end point, but rather a process: “It’s what you do with failure and how you revise a plan. Always think that failure is a chance to revise your strategy.”

Glenn Seland began by thanking the students for studying to become teachers, saying, “We need you. We need people who will invest in others.” Seland teaches at Fishers High School in Fishers, Indiana, and is the English department chair. “The power of saying ‘I’m sorry’ and the danger of assumptions are kind of a hand in hand thing I’ve had to learn in my career,” he said.

But despite the challenges – and the risks of failure – each of the Armstrong educators agreed teaching was the best job in the world.

Armstrong teacher educators are K-12 Indiana teachers with at least five years of experience. As part of the award, Armstrong teachers participate in panel discussions and invite School of Education students to observe them in their classrooms. Some winners also become Teachers-in-Residence and make regular trips to campus throughout the year to visit classes and collaborate with IU faculty on their curriculum, as well as conduct workshops on career development or related professional issues.