The Power of Reframing Failure in Middle School Classes

Reframing Failure

In this lesson, we explore the transformative power of reframing failure, understanding it not as a setback but as a vital step toward success. We’ll explore what a growth mindset entails and how it can change our approach to challenges, using real-life examples of notable figures who turned their failures into stepping stones. By the end of this lesson, students will learn to view obstacles through a lens of opportunity and be inspired to adopt a resilient and growth-oriented mindset in all aspects of life.

Learning Goals

  • I will be able to identify key examples of individuals who have demonstrated a growth mindset by overcoming failure.
  • I will be able to apply the principles of a growth mindset to personal experiences of challenge or failure.
  • I will be able to develop strategies for embracing challenges and learning from mistakes in pursuit of personal growth.
  • I will be able to celebrate effort and persistence, recognizing these qualities as indicators of growth, regardless of immediate success.



  1. After reading “The Power of Reframing Failure: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities,” discuss why it’s important to think of failure as growth opportunities. Share personal experiences or observations where a change in perspective from failure to opportunity led to growth or success.
  2. In small groups, have students discuss the stories of Thomas Edison, J.K. Rowling, and Michael Jordan. Each group should choose one story and do a little bit of additional research on each person.
  3. Using chart paper, have students create bullet points about how each person overcame obstacles. Students can informally present the information to the class.
  4. Lastly, have students complete the reflection questions in the a handout.

Reframing Failure: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities

Have you ever tried something new, only to find it didn’t go as planned? Maybe you were learning to ride a bike, and you fell off. Or perhaps you tried solving a really tough math problem and couldn’t find the right answer. It’s easy to feel disappointed and frustrated. Sometimes it’s easy to just give up. But what if I told you that these moments of failure are stepping stones to success? Yes, you read that right! Every challenge or failure you face is an opportunity for growth, and by looking at them through the lens of a growth mindset, you can transform these experiences into powerful lessons.

What is a Growth Mindset?

A growth mindset is the belief that your abilities and intelligence can be developed with effort, learning, and persistence. It’s the opposite of a fixed mindset, where people believe their talents and intelligence are set in stone and cannot change. People with a growth mindset see challenges as opportunities to learn and grow rather than obstacles that hold them back.

Stories of Success Through Failure

Let’s dive into some real-life examples of people who have turned their failures into successes, showing how powerful a growth mindset can be.

Thomas Edison: The Lightbulb of Persistence

Thomas Edison, the inventor of the lightbulb, faced thousands of failures before he finally succeeded. He tried over 10,000 materials to find the perfect filament for his lightbulb. When asked about his failures, Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Edison saw each failure as a step closer to success, learning from each one until he achieved his goal.

J.K. Rowling: From Rejection to Wizarding World

J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, faced numerous rejections from publishers. Her manuscript was turned down twelve times before a publisher finally took a chance on her story about a boy wizard. Rowling didn’t let rejection stop her; she persisted, believing in her story and her ability to share it with the world. Today, Harry Potter is a global phenomenon, inspiring millions of readers and viewers.

Michael Jordan: Missing Shots to Basketball Legend

Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, was once cut from his high school basketball team. Instead of giving up, Jordan used this failure as motivation to work harder. He once said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Jordan’s dedication and persistence turned his early failures into a legendary career.

Reframing Failure: How to See Challenges as Opportunities

Now, you might be wondering, “How can I start seeing my own failures and challenges as opportunities?” Here are some tips to help you develop a growth mindset and reframe failure:

Embrace Challenges: Instead of avoiding difficult tasks for fear of failing, embrace them as opportunities to learn and grow. Remember, stepping out of your comfort zone is where growth happens.

Learn from Mistakes: When things don’t go as planned, instead of getting upset, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this experience?” Every mistake has a lesson to offer.

Persist: Persistence is key to overcoming failures. Just like Edison, Rowling, and Jordan, don’t let setbacks stop you. Keep trying, learning, and moving forward.

Celebrate Effort, Not Just Success: Recognize and celebrate the effort you put into trying something, regardless of the outcome. Effort is a sign of growth, and it’s something to be proud of.

Use Positive Self-Talk: Be kind to yourself when you face setbacks. Instead of saying, “I can’t do this,” try saying, “I can’t do this yet.” Adding “yet” reminds you that learning and growth are ongoing processes.

Seek Feedback: Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. Understanding how you can improve is a crucial part of growing and overcoming challenges.

In Conclusion

Remember, failure isn’t the opposite of success; it’s a part of success. Every challenge you face is an opportunity to learn, grow, and become stronger. By adopting a growth mindset, you can reframe failure and turn setbacks into stepping stones towards your goals. So next time you face a hurdle, take a deep breath, remember these stories of persistence and resilience, and know that you have the power to overcome it. With each step forward, you’re writing your own story of success, one failure at a time.

Reflection Questions

  1. Think about a time when you faced a challenge or didn’t succeed at something on your first try. What was it, and how did you feel at that moment? How can you apply a growth mindset to see this experience differently now?
  2. Can you recall a mistake you made that taught you a valuable lesson? Share what the mistake was and the lesson you learned. How has this experience helped you grow or approach situations differently?
  3. Of the success stories mentioned (Thomas Edison, J.K. Rowling, and Michael Jordan), which one inspires you the most and why? How can you apply the lessons from their experiences to your own life or goals?
  4. Describe a situation where you worked really hard at something, regardless of the outcome. How did you feel about the effort you put in? Discuss why it’s important to celebrate the effort, not just the success.
  5. Think about a goal or challenge you’re currently facing or would like to tackle in the future. How can adopting a growth mindset help you approach this challenge? What are some steps you can take to persist and learn from the process?

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