My Greatest #Mistake by @TeacherToolkit

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
Read more about @TeacherToolkit

Do you encourage children to make mistakes in your classroom? Or are they fearful of taking risks and getting things wrong?

This is a blog about encouraging students and teachers to take risks in the classroom. What do you think your students would say?

Make Mistakes!

“Mistakes are welcome in a collective group of outstanding classrooms.”

 “Emphasise to your students that mistakes are useful and in your classroom, they are welcome.”

Create a huge A3 colourful sign for your classroom wall. Add the following text: ‘Mistakes are welcome in this classroom!”

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Image: Shutterstock

Appropriate and regular classwork/homework contributes very well to students’ progress. For example, homework must not be set for the sake of it; tasks need to be used as tool for developing learning. To encourage risk-taking in your own practice, as well as banishing any fear of making mistakes in your classroom, I would advocate a slip-up-classroom culture. What I mean by a slip-up-classroom culture is: gaffs, duds and draft copies of work. Or put simpler, effort to complete the work knowing that their first attempt will be momentarily accepted, reviewed and returned! If students accept that their first attempt at their work will always be given the status of ‘first-draft’, then once feedback is provided, students can respond to their draft and act upon their boo-boos.


Why Mistakes are Welcome in *Outstanding Classrooms?

  1. It teaches us to accept work is never perfect.
  2. We develop and evolve to be less fearful.
  3. We learn problem-solving strategies in order to cope with feedback.
  4. Recognising mistakes mean we are progressing.
  5. That by having a positive mindset will self-disseminate and embed into everyday practice.

*Outstanding classrooms refer to teaching and learning collectively and not one-off or an individual.

 My Greatest Mistakes:

  1. Setting homework for the sheer hell of it!
  2. Forgetting, that not all classwork/homework tasks need to be marked.
  3. Failing to provide students with differentiated homework and classroom tasks.
  4. Spending 10-15 minutes of the lesson chasing up or collecting homework.
  5. And worst of all, not spending enough time or thought creating exciting and enriching work. Or, understanding the benefits and impact great mistakes can have in the classroom and in corridor conversations with students and colleagues.

Invest more time planning exciting classwork/homework that not only aids progress, but enhances engagement and awe from your class. If you can master the art of classwork/homework being a joy and not a chore, then you are well on your way to ‘My Greatest Mistake’.

Take it Further:

What classwork/homework could you provide as a longer-term assignment that involves cross-curricular references? Look at forthcoming events on the school calendar, or nab those project-themes from other heads of department and think carefully how you could tie them into your own classroom-setting.

Want to take more risks? Then say so here.

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You can read more here.


My Greatest Mistake poster*This image has been used for the blogpost and does not represent any student in my classroom.

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