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Making Mistakes

During my Tier 1 Administrative Credential course module on Culture, I picked up on some ideas about making mistakes.  I realized that making mistakes is a good thing as a teacher and a leader.

Here are some bullet points on lessons I’ve learned about making mistakes:

  • Don’t be afraid to take risks, which may lead to mistakes.
  • Mistakes are learning experiences.
  • Making new mistakes comes from trying new things, and can lead to achieving new things.
  • Playing with techniques and trying new things adds variety to a routine and makes the process more engaging for everyone.
  • As a leader, acknowledging and sharing mistakes helps others feel comfortable and free to experiment too.

Thomas Hoerr’s MNM Philosophy, Make New Mistakes, recognizes that mistakes are opportunities to learn.  He stated that old mistakes entail repeating errors and not learning from experiences.  No mistakes mean we continue to use the same approach, perhaps we are error-free, but little learning takes place, and this sounds boring.  Making new mistakes though, means we try new ideas and strategies and learn from our experiences.

When I was a beginning online teacher, I tried new things and continually sought feedback from my students, their parents, and other teachers.  After seven years though, I found I had gotten stuck in my routine that I found worked, and was boring myself.  I started trying some new things and experimenting with my teaching though.  My lessons are not as streamlined and clean as before, but I am having more fun and my students are enjoying the variety too.

This also happened just in time for the mid-year reviews I conducted, and I was able to share my ruts and experimentation to dig my way out with the teachers I support.  I hope my example and our discussion helps them feel free to take risk and enjoy experimenting too.

Thomas Hoerr mentioned the “wonderfully liberating message” it gives to teachers when the leader shares a learning experience and celebrates the new mistakes he or she learns, and I would agree from the experiences I’ve had from my leaders.

Additional Resources:

The Art of School Leadership by Thomas Hoerr

5 Mistakes Everyone Should Make by Real Simple

Only Let Yourself Make New Mistakes by Peter Winick

Mistakes that Worked by Charlotte Jones