While making sure your room is ready and having great lessons is important, another thing you should be thinking about is how you will help your students grow!
These first days of school are the perfect time to talk to your class about being a community of learners. One component of being a community is feeling safe to take academic risks and to try even if they fail.
And what they will never expect, but will be so powerful, is to encourage your class to make mistakes!
What?! Yeah, let your class know that you will encourage them to make mistakes. Mistakes are welcomed, mistakes mean they are taking a chance, and mistakes are the stepping stones to success!
Mistakes are the stepping stones to success!
A chant that was said every day in my class was:
“If you make a mistake, it’s okay. Mistakes help us learn too.
You just try again.
We will encourage each other and help each other.
We will build each other up.”
If you look at mistakes from a growth mindset, it’s not a failure. It’s just one step closer to being right. It is so valuable for teachers to help their students understand that mistakes can be corrected and that they can learn from them. Using models such as Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, and Michael Jordan, people who experienced failure but continued their work, shows students that success comes after many fails and that hard work and persistence can pay off!
One teacher I knew, gave her students a treat when they found their own mistake, owned up to it and corrected it. Isn't that awesome! When our students realize that a mistake is not going to be penalized but that it's a point where they can grow from, the fear of failure lessens!
Admit When You Make a Mistake
Something else that is powerful is for a teacher to admit when she/he has made a mistake! This is the perfect time to lead by example. I know that I have made countless mistakes in front of my students and I used to not point them out. But I think it can be a learning experience for them, I can share with them how I plan to fix the mistake or what I might try next if I haven't found a solution. Talking through my situation and letting them know that my failure can be corrected is a great model for them.
Lastly, make a zero tolerance policy in your class that no one will be teased for being incorrect. Many students don't raise their hands or give an answer because they don't want to be teased for having the wrong idea. The students may not always be right but it's how the class reacts to it that matters. Students can respectfully disagree or share an alternative idea without putting down the students with the original idea. Just as much as you build up your students, encourage them to build each other up too! All the positive words that you use to encourage, can be used to encourage each other.
Just remember, the safer your students feel in class the more they will be open to making mistakes. The stigma of mistakes gets taken away and the real learning can begin!
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