Right now I am all zenned out from my peaceful quiet winter break filled with tea, yoga, and good books. Also my cutie husband and furry friend. I thought a little inspiring blog post from this happy mental place was in order for my teacher friends.
I came across an interesting, thought provoking idea about mistakes.
“I actively train my students that when they make a mistake, they are to lift their arms in the air, smile, and say, “How fascinating!” It is only when we make mistakes that we can really begin to notice what needs attention.”
-Benjamin Zander, Conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and all around interesting guy
It’s fun to picture these accomplished musicians responding to their mistakes in such a way. It’s even more fun to think about my own students responding to their mistakes thus. How joyful our classroom would be!
I haven’t decided whether to teach this exact process to the kids or not. But I am so inspired to take this joyful approach to focusing on what needs attention.
So teacher friends, how can we adopt this enlightened approach to mistakes in our classrooms… Here’s my plan.
Smile and think “oh that’s fascinating” when I make my own mistakes.
Smile and think “oh that’s fascinating” when the kids do something that is not helpful before I respond to them. Consider what I can learn from their behavior before I act.
Be reflective on what daily classroom practices might discourage students from feeling neutral or even positive about their mistakes. Many educational traditions make students feel shame in make mistakes ( writing names on board, grading practice work, editing with red pens…)
Take steps to eliminate practices I find in my classroom that discourage mistake making.
Add purposeful classroom practices that encourage students to focus on and learn from mistakes. (More on this when I think of some.)
Create positive, reflective phrases or questions to say to students when they make a mistake. (Again, more on this to come.)
How do you handle mistakes? Please share and comment!