It's an ugly fact of life, but not only do most people fail from time to time; we also take comfort in the fact that other people also fail. Maybe it's not an ugly fact. Maybe it's just keeping it real.
I was reminded of this yesterday when I was talking to one of my younger sisters about her (relatively new) job as a math teacher. She is having a rough time of it, and I have to say that I have never known of a first-year teacher who hasn't. I remembered last year-- my first real year of teaching-- and I remembered one conversation with my mom, in which I was bemoaning my many inadequacies as a teacher, and finally she shared one of the more embarrassing moments of her teaching career: her first semester of teaching, as a graduate student, she put an unsolvable problem on the final (math) exam. She did not discover the fact that it was unsolvable until was grading the exam, and at that point all she could do about it was give everyone full credit (which she did).
When I told Klari about this, she laughed really hard and said, "I should talk to Mom more." I agree.
On a more personal note, my worst moment teaching (so far) was when I was substitute teaching at a Jr. High in the Utah Valley region. A math class, now that I think about it. The teacher had left a note that I should be really strict, not allow any talking, and call the principal's office if the kids gave me any cheek whatsoever. I sort of raised my eyebrows, because I am personally a little more laid back than all that, but I tried to follow instructions. By third period, if I recall correctly, I had called them something like five times. Fourth period I called again, and they said that I was going to have to learn how to handle discipline problems myself, because they just couldn't handle that many kids. I turned red. I did not eat lunch in the teacher's lunch room because I was so embarrassed and sure that everyone would know that I was the stupid substitute teacher who had called the principal's office so many times that they had to tell her to stop.
By the end of the day, I had developed my own method of classroom management (or maybe I had just developed trust in the method I pretty much had at that point anyway). This method, if it could be called that, worked so well that almost every single time I have been observed teaching since then, I have gotten comments on the positive rapport in my classroom and/or how willing my students are to do what I ask them to. My students also frequently comment on how nice I am. I sometimes worry that this means I'm a pushover, but I'll take what I can get.
I know I'm always begging for comments, but especially here: I would love to have any extra, validating stories about failures that did not end the world and even are pretty funny at this point in time.