They ask. Are you okay?

I say. Yes.

They follow. You sure? Okay? Today?

I say. I guess.

Really? They add.

Really. I confess.

Are you mad?


You seem upset.

How so?

I dunno. Just now.

What? That? That sounded angry somehow?

Sorry, sorry. Wow. Now I know I’ve probably bothered you.

Nope. That’s not true.

…was just saying… so anyways.

I ask. Are you okay?

some thoughts while building Ikea furniture

I want more poems
from men
doing common



Hands, back,
brain, soul-
all engaged.

Dad details.

Brotherly soliloquies.

Sons raised into

And story
more than

Men bringing
their thoughts
up and out
through thick
fragile skin,

constructing meaning,
like an artist
but with advice,
bits of wisdom
carried leaward
after falls
and fails.

Send me sonnets
made up of
head nods
and winks
from across
the room.

Give me
an ode
a crisp line
the snowblower draws
at the driveway’s

I need not
accept it’s
gospel to
the beauty of
the craft.

Prognosticate on
the measured difference
this highway
over that.

Salt pure lore
the roads
more or less

Make them
for others.

I will listen.

Explain to me
ballad form
the emotional
vibrancy of sport.

I love when
this gift,
an inheritance without
can mention without

then enfold me
with tearful voltas-
wincing and
wistful noticings
about the
strain of age.

that you
only mention
limits while
in motion;

pain holds wisdom,
it reminds
of how
and when
you are
in the world.

Rally and regale
songs of
the protector,
their duty
and the fear.

Surround me
with metaphor
in repeating layers-
your arms thinning,
your love radiating,
your reach grasping.

You do that
and I will curate
a love language
in my chest,
silent sometimes
on fire otherwise.

Be alliterative;
repeat yourself.

You will sink in.

You will
fill this heart
shaped box
made by
bare hands
and quiet

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,


final reflection – elephant paths

Happy to share my journey. Willing to chat this out. Pushback and feedback are welcome.