Mrs. Madame the Builder: The (Almost) Final Update

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working on a DIY retaining wall project that has thrown me so far out of my comfort zone it isn’t even funny. Ok, well that is a lie. If you watch my video, you can see that I found pretty much the whole thing hilarious.

Anyway… In part 1, I talked about my beginning research and the steps I thought I would have to take. In part 2, I gave a small update on the progress I had made so far, and it was full of failure. Since then, I’ve worked and failed even more, but I have learned SO much. If we look back to something I said in the last update:

“Researchers and pioneer educators have been talking about and promoting the role of making in learning for decades (Halverson, E.R. & Sheridan, K., 2014). So between making, failing, and making again, I think the whole point is that I am learning new things the whole time. After every failure, I get a little bit better.”

You can see that learning is a natural outcome of failure. Abilities and intelligence can be developed… from failure! Anyone with a growth mindset can tell you that. That is one of my mottos for this project. The other is ‘good enough‘!


My Fails (and the Learning That Came From Them)

Fails and failure are no longer bad words to me, so I’m going to talk about them with a moderate level of pride here. I learned something new from each and every one.

Failures What I Learned
exposed sprinkler lines how to protect sprinkler lines with sand
a sprinkler head that was too low how to raise a sprinkler head with an extender
stakes that were too short improvisation – using shovels and a hoe instead of stakes
materials delivered a week late how to stand up for myself with people I don’t know, who promised me something and then didn’t deliver on it
materials that were the wrong color how to not fear failure, and embrace it instead


My Most Helpful Resources

As I mentioned in the video, YouTube was my hero. I can read about things all day long and never truly understand how to do something until I watch someone else do it first. I linked more general videos and sources in parts 1 and 2, but I want to share some of the specific sources I talked about in the final video.


When I started this project, I had no idea just how hard I would fail. Sometimes it was due to my oversight, and other times it was something that was just out of my control. I was terrified of what would happen if I failed and wasn’t able to finish the project on time. However, through those failures (and some words of encouragement from my teachers) I learned many valuable skills and developed an entirely new mindset. I can honestly say that failure no longer scares me.

Now the question becomes… how can I get my students to adopt that same mindset?



Halverson, E.R. & Sheridan, K. (2014). The maker movement in education. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 495-465. Accessed from


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