Making mistakes is okay. It is part of the learning process. We all know this, yet we are compelled to treat the mistake as something wrong. It’s not. The mistake needs to happen. The learner needs to be made aware, given guidance in working through why, and then given the opportunity to build upon that new knowledge. This is not an easy thing to do, though, in the high stakes world that education has become. Too much is riding on the right answers, leading us to treat mistakes as wrong. Tell kids they are wrong too often,however, and they begin to tune out. “I’m not good at Math”. “Science is boring”. These are phrases we hear regularly. The solution can be simple. Acknowledge the mistake as the right thing, the thing that needed to happen. Saying “I am so glad you did it that way so I can show you x,y,z…” or “Thank you for giving us an opportunity to look at this another way” creates an environment that is safe for the imperfect, aka everyone in the room. No judgments are made. The lesson is learned. The skill is attained. Wrong becomes right and onward we go.
Sometimes the little things have the biggest impact.
Special thanks to my co-teacher, Nick, for teaching me this powerful little lesson