Support your students to see failure as an opportunity for growth by reflecting on their feelings and taking practical steps forward when faced with disappointing results from assessments or exams.

Year level



60 minutes


In class activity

SEL Competencies



Learning intention

Students recognise how disappointing marks can affect their emotional state and select proactive strategies to help them learn from the experience and improve future outcomes.

Key outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify the range of emotions they feel when receiving results and, after, reflect on improvement strategies

  • identify two positives of their performance in a task and at least one point for improvement

  • identify strategies for succeeding in future tasks.

Materials needed

  • Notebooks

  • Pens

  • Interactive whiteboard/projector to play video

Mapped to

Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education

  • Refine, evaluate and adapt strategies for managing changes and transitions (AC9HP10P02)

  • Evaluate emotional responses in different situations to refine strategies for managing emotions (AC9HP10P06)

Australian Curriculum: General Capabilities

  • Critical and Creative Thinking:

    • Reflecting

  • Personal and Social Capability:

    • Self-awareness

    • Self-management

NSW PDHPE Syllabus

  • Assesses their own and others’ capacity to reflect on and respond positively to challenges (PD5-1)

  • Assesses and applies self-management skills to effectively manage complex situations (PD5-9)

Victorian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education

  • Evaluate situations and propose appropriate emotional responses and then reflect on possible outcomes of different responses to health and wellbeing (VCHPEP147)

Show details

Activity 1

Emotions check-in

10 minutes

  1. Prior to this lesson, provide students with their results and feedback on an allocated task or exam.

  2. Ask students to identify an emotion from a list or emotions wheel that they are feeling upon reading their results.

  3. Ask for volunteers to share with the class.

Debrief: This is an example of emotional co-regulation – i.e. the act of two or more people (e.g. a teacher and a student) taking time to help each other identify feelings and come to a place of calm or emotional regulation together. This will support students to identify and use emotional self-regulation practices when experiencing disappointment in future. Other co-regulation activities include:

Activity 2

Feelings and options: Failing forward

30 minutes

  1. Introduce the idea of ‘failing forward’ to students. Explain that failing forward is a growth mindset concept which seeks to normalise failure as part of the learning process. When we try, and fail, we are able to grow and obtain skills through deeper learning.

  2. Present the following excerpt from ‘Austin’s Butterfly’ on an interactive whiteboard, or watch this video as a whole class.

Austin was a Year 1 student in Idaho, USA, who was tasked with creating a scientifically accurate drawing of a butterfly for a school project. The first drawing Austin did was far from accurate. If he had stopped at this first ‘failure’, he never would have learned and improved – i.e. failed forward. Austin’s teacher and other students gave Austin specific, timely and compassionate feedback. They gave him the time and opportunity to improve. Austin’s Butterfly is a great real-world lesson in how failing forward helps us to grow, and how a growth mindset and optimistic thinking can lead to success.

  1. Have students reflect on this scenario in groups using the Feelings and Options thinking routine:

  • Identify: What challenge is Austin facing?

  • Feel: What do you think Austin is feeling when he gets feedback about his first drawing? Why might the situation be hard or challenging for Austin and the other students?

  • Imagine: Imagine options for how the situation could be handled. Come up with as many ideas as possible. Highlight or circle which option might lead to the most positive outcome, where the most people feel good or taken care of.

  • Say: What could Austin and those involved say to themselves about failing forward? What can you tell yourself when you are in a similar scenario when receiving feedback or results?

Activity 3

Reflection activity: Two stars and a wish

10 minutes

  1. Ask students to write three headings in their notebook: ‘Star’, ‘Star’ and ‘Wish’.

  2. Guide students to read over or listen to any feedback you have given them on an allocated task or exam.

  3. Students write down two stars (two things your feedback indicated they did well) and one wish (at least one point for improvement next time).

Note: Some students may find it challenging to identify two stars and a wish. They may need further support and explanation from you to identify these items. For students with a lower academic result, their two stars may simply be that they attempted the task with a growth mindset or they handed the task in on time. Small stars still count!

Activity 4

Think, pair, share: Success strategies

10 minutes

  1. Guide students to use their one wish improvement from the previous activity as a learning goal, to identify strategies they can use to achieve their wish.

  2. Students share their thoughts with a partner to make a list of strategies for success. Examples could include:

    • allowing plenty of time for planning

    • refining their timelines

    • setting goals

    • seeking feedback from peers and teacher

    • asking the teacher questions

    • working with a partner to break down the task.

  3. Ask pairs to share their list with the rest of the class, recording each answer on a whiteboard/smartboard. Discuss and unpack any strategies of interest.


Free teaching resources emailed to you

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest teaching resources on mental health and wellbeing.

To see how we use this information check out our Privacy policy.