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21st Century Skills - Competencies without a Classroom Podcast - Episode 14 Recap

S2 E14: Glen Coleman - @GlenLColeman
Griffin Jaeger
April 23, 2021

Where there is collaboration and conversation, there is great opportunity.


In our 14th #21for21 episode of Competencies without a Classroom we speak with the author, podcast host, and high school social studies teacher, Glen Coleman. Glen has been teaching world civilizations and social studies for over 20 years, allowing him to really explore the content and think outside of the box regarding pedagogy.

What can you borrow from Glen for your classroom to help teach 21st-century skills?

In this episode, Glen shares his perspective on celebrating failure. Specifically, as a means to overcome obstacles and learn through the support of peers and educators through feedback. In Glen's classroom, failure is the goal as it allows students to have material from which they can learn from.

One way Glen puts this into practice is through a two-minute speech with no notes. Students may shriek at the idea initially because it likely won’t be great. But through each two-minute unrehearsed speech, the class gives feedback allowing students to learn what does and doesn't work. By stitching together bits and pieces of excellence through feedback, they begin to grow in their competence and confidence. Thus, showcasing grit and improving over time.

The point is not to memorize content, but to use content to enrich one's understanding of the world around them. This way, a student finds meaning in their classroom learning, by applying it to today.

Glen also encourages failure as a means of learning by giving a test first, rather than last. The only way to score perfectly on the test is to repetitively redo it. Thus, creating community and accountability surrounding failure and assisting one another in achieving that goal.

Just as Glen shares with us the question of “I don't know is really powerful, but what’s more powerful than I don't know, is to ask, “What do you think?” and care about it”.

Through Glen’s methods of celebrating and embracing failure in the classroom, students work on 21st- century skills like collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving.


Reflection Prompts for Your Students

  1. Use the prompts below to have your students reflect on what they heard in the episode and consider how Glen’s advice can be applied to them.
  2. If Glen was given a billboard and could write any phrase on it, he would write “Fail Gloriously”, stressing the importance of embracing and learning from personal failure. Think about a time where you experienced failure, what did you learn from that experience? How can failing gloriously and embracing failure push us to be better learners?
  3. Glen has his students perform a two-minute speech with no notes in his classroom. This way, they can use learned content that they are passionate about and connect it to the world. If you had to give a two-minute no notes speech right now, what would you talk about? How can you connect this topic to what you are learning in other subjects? How can you connect it to the world around you?
  4. Glen emphasizes the value of peer feedback. What is one piece of feedback you have been given in or out of the classroom that has stuck with you? Why?

Yearning for more? You’re in luck! We’ll be speaking to educators all month long about #21for21 and the development of 21st-century skills in the classroom. Join the fun and head over to to sign up for episode recaps, lesson plans, and chances to win some awesome prizes.


  • Follow Glen on Twitter
  • Read Glen's Book - 100 or Nothing - Reimagining Success in the classroom
  • Listen to Glen’s Podcast - Teacher Breath on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify.
  • Send a message to Glen’s Facebook page - Coleman nation
  • Read Glen’s book recommendation, Sapiens

Get Involved with #21FOR21

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