I Love Mistakes

I love my job.  It’s different every day.  I get to meet new people all the time.  It’s creative.  I travel to places I probably wouldn’t go otherwise.  So what’s not to love?  The fact that I don’t feel free to make mistakes.  As a teacher I loved experimenting with new lessons or new ways to talk to kids.  I wasn’t afraid of “failure” because most of the time nobody was watching.  And kids are very forgiving.  (Either that or they don’t notice when a lesson is a dud.)

But as a staff developer, I feel like I always have to be “on.”  Always have to be the expert.  So I stick to tried and true approaches.  No-fail lessons.  This year, though, I vowed to change that.  I decided that I would try new things.  Yes, while teachers and coaches and principals and superintendents watched.  I decided to try new ways of being with kids.  I let kids “perform” poetry before rehearsing.  I let students run minilessons.  I allowed kids to share their interpretations of text without making sure they saw “what the author really meant.”

And guess what?  I learned.  I learned that little kids can make music in the moment and don’t always need to practice for their peers.  I learned that a kid’s version of a minilesson is very different than mine, but that my new goal is to get kids to teach minilessons at least once a week.  And I learned that there are very interesting ways to interpret any text, if we just give kids a chance to explain their thinking and don’t butt in with ours.

I also learned that I don’t always have to be the expert.  And that’s very freeing.


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