“Mistakes and struggle were part of the natural process to success.”

Being a teacher during teachable moments is one of the greatest joys of this job. Having to be dead silent during those teachable moments is the challenge of a lifetime. At George Mason University’s The EDGE program, students faced their own set of challenges, too, and teachers were not allowed to say a word. Here, it wasn’t our place to teach. It was our time to learn – all of us. Presented with obstacles of all kinds, students had to work together, overcome personal insecurities, shift mindsets to accommodate diverse ways of thinking, engage problem solving strategies, and maybe most importantly, communicate clearly, efficiently, and with respect. Difficult to do when you’re young and ambitious and you have a sea of hungry land whales surrounding your floating vessel in the woods.

The challenges presented to students at The EDGE were designed to set participants up for failure – that is, failure forward. Mistakes and struggle were part of the natural process to success. Sounds a lot like a classroom, doesn’t it? A lot like life? With every setback, students had to reset, reframe, and refocus. And when they didn’t succeed after they’d tried and tried again, reflection became a key component to their goals and growth.

We’re still reflecting on the challenges we faced at The EDGE. Students are recalling victories and losses, joys and frustrations – all to build a foundation for a year of success – even if by way of failing forward. We’re using these experiences as a springboard – blazing a trail to defeating any challenge that comes our way.

~Mrs. Bell, Fifth Grade Teacher

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