#IMMOOC Blog Post #3: In Room 253, We Encourage Mistakes

March 16, 2018

At the beginning of every year, I do my best to cultivate a safe, welcoming environment for all my students.  In the music room we create, play, sing, and perform often.  Failing and making mistakes is a real fear for many of my students. So, when the topic arises, I take the time to address it.  


I make sure they understand that in room 253, we encourage mistakes.  Mistakes mean we are learning.  In fact, I tell my students that I hope we fail in this classroom.  At the beginning of the year I usually get a gasp and often times some silence when I say that.  I quickly clarify that I am not trying to hurt their feelings.  I explain that making mistakes and failing doesn't have to be a bad thing.  Really, they are just forms of feedback.  I always use myself as an example and say, "You know I make mistakes all the time, right?"  Heads nod.  Eyes bug out.  Smiles appear.  (My students know me well.)  I explain that I'm human and while I like to be right all the time, I'm not.  I make mistakes and I fail.  It doesn't always feel good.  I get frustrated and discouraged when things don't go the way I want them to.  Still, I keep at it and reflect on my mistakes and when I do, I grow as a learner and often times find success.  It's all part of the learning process.  


And then today happened.  I started to play a game with my students but worried someone would feel bad if they made a mistake so I reminded them how it's okay to make mistakes.  Just then a student spoke up a said, "Mistakes mean you are learning" and another student said, "and we're only human."  My heart grew a little bigger as I nodded and smiled.  My message was heard.  


If students feel safe and supported they will flourish.  If students see a teacher that puts herself out there, shares her thinking and shares her failings, they too will be willing to take the leap. However, if we don't take a risk, try new things and make mistakes along the way, we will miss out on too much of the learning.  So for that reason, I hope we make mistakes and fail along the way.  It's just part of the learning process.  




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