How to Overcome Teaching Setbacks

Posted by on January 6th, 2017

You devote countless hours to planning lessons for your students’ learning and growth. Many of those lessons are tremendous successes yielding great results for your students. Then, there are other lessons that you pour yourself into only to fail. The good news is, it happens to everyone at some point. The bad news is, it’s a horrible feeling! The following options will help you overcome teaching setbacks and move forward.

Face Your Feelings – Face your feelings regarding the outcome of your failed lesson. Spend time identifying exactly what you are feeling and why. Are you feeling disappointment? Is anger present? Are you embarrassed? Taking the moment to dig a bit deeper into what you are feeling and the reasons driving those feelings will allow you to better deal with the situation

Look for the Silver Lining – Remaining optimistic can be difficult. However, it is important to be positive and identify the things that did go well. Celebrating your strengths will shift the balance of feeling defeated by your failure.


Discover the Growth Opportunity – In every situation, there is a lesson to be learned. Try taking an objective view to see what observers may have picked up on. What things were done effectively? What things can you take away and utilize for improvement later? Focusing on opportunities and potential for corrections that you still have will eliminate some of the stress and pressure caused by the setback.


Find Support – Identify a confidant to share your setbacks without fear of judgement. They may not have a solution, but knowing someone is available for you to talk through the situation is helpful. This will allow you to verbalize your concerns and reactions openly. Other support may be from someone who has been in your place. They may be able to share suggestions on how they overcame the obstacle or how they taught a similar lesson successfully.


It is inevitable that your perfect plans will fail at some point. No matter how small or large the letdown, the goal when this happens is not to remain stuck in those places but instead to move forward. Adopting practices such as seeking support, remaining positive and looking for ways to grow will allow you to face teaching setbacks and continue your progress. Develop the mindset of growth and resilience. Utilize your learning from specific challenges as an opportunity to change your behavior, rather than give up on a specific goal or objective.


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