thanks, i’m failing much better now #tifmbn

Yesterday, I got caught up in a Twitter convo that started with this tweet:

I was game to play with this thought. So I posed into the mix- what does this mindset look like in #OntEd?

The bulk of the thread leaned heavy on system leaders being able rock a growth mindset and the importance of administrators modeling an openness to failure.

Tweeps dropped wisdom about innovation, and research, and student achievement, and changing culture, and social change. Still, I wondered about risk and failure. I wondered whether asking for forgiveness, rather than permission was an actuality for most teachers. I also wondered why it was that when we speak of learning and leading from failure, we expect administrators and system leaders to do it first.

The convo was just the right appetizer to get me thinking about my own practice. I have failed repeatedly and continually in a couple specific endeavours; dropped the ball brilliantly with lesson and classroom design; ignored good feedback; upset parents and parents of parents; and generally made messes that I was not skilled enough to clean up. But I have not really dug in and worked through what that has meant to my practice.

So what next?

For the next few blog posts, I am going to spread out my failures and take a peek at all of their loose ends. I will probably chat out some of my #thoughtfuel with @rchids on our podcast DeCodEd. And I will start messing up my messes with the following questions.

  • What was the goal?
  • At what point did I start failing?
  • Why did I not stop and admit defeat?
  • What could have been done differently?
  • Were there skills deficits that were revealed through the process?
  • Were there skills surpluses that were revealed through this process?
  • Who should I have checked in with during the process?
  • Who should I check in with in order to move past this failure?
  • Now that I have failed, what do I do next with this knowledge?
  • What did I learn from this process?

Please reach out and toss me some feedback about this piece. If there are other questions that I could include in my framework, please send ’em my way.

If you are looking to pull apart your pedagogy a wee bit, I am happy to share my blog space with anyone that wants to post up some words about their own failures in #OntEd.

I can be reached through Twitter @chrisjcluff or via email

Be well,


5:11 AM

Waking up disturbed is new for me.

Right now I got issues. These issues are issues because I am not sleeping well. I am not sleeping well because my brain is choosing to lockpick my consciousness while I am at my most vulnerable.

Having thoughts demand attention before a first coffee makes me wish I could just roll back over into slumber.

And avoid.

And lockdown, and recompartmentalize.

But I am not that guy.

Awake equals awareness of self, plus activation of senses, multiplied by external stimuli, exponentialized by the training that there is no way back to slumber.

It is a loop and a routine.

Moving slowly and silently downstairs, the vaxxed ache in my left arm surprises me. My grip on the handrail softens slightly.

Throbby thunder from sudden muscle activation starts distant then rolls up to my temple. It pauses briefly over my left ear and comes to rest at the base of my skull.

That seat of pain is entirely familiar. Sleep apnea can deposit tension there also.

Next choice is a BEDMAS of options. Is it caffeine, toilet, advil, breakfast, then social media? Or SMCATB?

Funny though, the skittish sensation reminds me that I can make good decisions when I need to.

The process of getting boosted was simple with a caveat. I had to commute an hour away for the soonest possible jab. It seems like an hour each way to stand in a line for 2 hours is more reasonable then staying local, travelling less, but not having any assurance that an appointment would be available before mid January.

Maybe perspective helps with the meaning making of this trip. The difference geographically changes the view. It rewrites the OS just enough to give me the satisfaction of taking care of my wellness in a very specific way.

But that’s it. I am now three doses into my own private pandemic. The marathon is over, for now.

The fresh tattoo on my right arm rumbles under a tight artificial skin of dermawrap- a covering designed to treat severe burns. On previous works, I left the studio with no more than a cheery abstract, ‘Keep it clean.’ Now, the constancy of care statements are overwhelming sometimes.

I imagine the complexities of navigating the afterwards of a great tattoo experience, where obvious client irresponsibility is blame gaming the artist. The dermawrap is emblematic of the broader suite of tools meant to protect their art form from mistreatment and to protect humans from themselves.

I may be able to remove the second skin today. I know that there will be fresh feels from this.

When people ask me, ‘Is it painful to get a tattoo?‘ I immediately answer ‘Yes.’

The quickness of my response disarms people. I get the sense that a bubble has been burst.

To keep the moment from log jamming I always follow-up with the soft provocation, ‘But not in the way you might be used to.

Like waking up disturbed and well rested simultaneously.

My second cup of coffee starts to loosen up the knots in my neck. Leaning over the laptop, I start to think about actual versus potential pain and the endearment that I make of it.

Interim – Day 8 – release

Over a weekend I interviewed and successfully gained the position of Interim Head of Special Education at my High School. The position is short term, 10 days in length, but could be extended until the end of the semester.

I have been in Special Education for over a decade, but this is my first position of responsibility in this department.

These posts are going to focus on the ideas and questions that popped up on the daily.

Some got answered, some are still in process. Most questions I had some clue how to action, but even more have me chasing squirrels to find answers.


How did I lead in the past 8 days? Where did I lead us to in the past 8 days? Why did I lead us to those places?

Was that department meeting a valuable use of our time? What adjustments need to be made to increase access, interest, and engagement?

What about the peeps that do not need me to lead them?

I have the itchy-sweater-feeling that I should be doing something right now.

Being present is difficult. How do I shake the feeling that an unknown deadline is looming?

Today was about connecting with my team. Damn it felt good to work on a thing together.