Want a bit of wisdom from a third-grader?

How about this: “Failing is a direct path to succeeding.”

Indianapolis Public Schools held a dinner tonight honoring last year’s teachers of the year at schools across the district, including the top winner, Amy Wackerly.

IPS teacher of the year Amy Wackerly
IPS teacher of the year Amy Wackerly

In accepting the district-wide teacher of the year award, Center For Inquiry School 2’s Wackerly shared some of the best advice her third-grade students wrote down during a class activity in which they tried to write precepts, or rules, they suggested as guidelines for how to conduct your life.

The idea came from the novel ” Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. In the book, an English teacher, Mr. Browne, is fond of sharing precepts. Wackerly, too, likes precepts, especially from the world of sports. She gave them a series of her own favorite precepts and asked the students to write their reactions to one of her quotes, cite a favorite precept they already know or create a precept of their own.

Here’s a sampling of what the students wrote:

How to get better

Many of the students’ own precepts were about striving to improve.

One student wrote: “You should never give up on you. You should keep trying until you get it.”

Another cited the role of teachers: “Don’t let the wall block you getting over that wall. But sometimes you need help and that’s what teachers do.”

A student even completed the assignment by quoting the Star Wars character Yoda: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

A daily masterpiece

In response to the precept by basketball coaching legend John Wooden, “Make each day your masterpiece,” one student wrote:

“Make your day a great day. Wake up in the morning and be happy all day. Work hard on what you are learning.”

Failing in order to succeed

Wackerly shared with the students this precept from NBA basketball great Michael Jordan: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six 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.”

LeaLoni wrote in response: “You learn from all the mistakes you make.”

And MaKenna’s take was: “You have to make mistakes in order to succeed.”

Teaching to those who need it most

Writer Maya Angelou’s famous precept was: “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.”

Metta said to him it meant: “Pass on what you learn and get it to the people who need it most.”