Learning from our mistakes….

I like everything to be the way it should be. However, I know for a fact that I’m a terrible speller and couldn’t live without that very helpful little red line that highlights my computer page as I type. Does that little red line help me learn from my mistakes? Debatable. Yet the children in my classroom will be the first to tell you that it really is OK to make a mistake because you will learn from it! This is a lesson that I want my class to take with them on their learning journey and I wonder that maybe I should take some of my own advice.

The other day I had a great chat with a few students in my class during what was supposed to be our ‘quiet’ reading time about the fantastic book Beautiful Oops!’ by Barney Saltzberg (2010). Of course we talked about the book and the pictures, but more importantly we started talking about times that they have made a mistake and it turned out to be OK (or even better than OK):

“When you think you have made a mistake, think of it as an opportunity to make something beautiful.”

What struck me the most was the discussion I had with one of my EAL students who, in broken English, expressed how it feels to speak English all day at school with friends and know that what you’re saying just isn’t really right. It can sometimes make you frustrated and not want to speak, read or write anything for fear of making a mistake. However, these mistakes can become a ‘Beautiful Oops!’ because it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake; your friends still play with you, your writing and reading will be complete, people understood what you were saying and you probably made someone laugh in the process (especially true for this student).

So even though our sentences might not be perfect, or our grammar a bit off, we are continually learning from our mistakes and that’s when an ‘Oops’ can be turned into a beautiful one. It encourages children to find positives in their mistakes, problem solve, and create something they are proud of. My goal this year is to build confidence and turn mistakes into teaching moments. Who knows, I may even turn into a better speller if I paid more attention to that helpful little red line!

Saltzberg, Barney. Beautiful Oops! New York: Workman Pub., 2010. Print.



7 thoughts on “Learning from our mistakes….”

  1. Thanks for sharing Kelly. It is great that your students are being given these helpful words of wisdom so young in their educational journey. I wish I had a teacher when I was younger who encouraged me to see that learning from our mistakes could be a beautiful thing.

  2. I love this quote of yours: “it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake; your friends still play with you … and you probably made someone laugh in the process”. Out of the mouths of babes! What a great perspective! It is definitely something that I need to remember – to never take myself so seriously that I cannot laugh at my own mistakes.

  3. What a great way to explain it to little people! Our children have to face a lot of challenges in Grade 1 and the ELLS have to deal with the foreign language anxiety. We all learn better when we are happy and relaxed. If our students understand early that mistakes are our stepping stones and our path to knowledge, they will become risk-takers and curious learners.
    Thanks Kelly!

  4. Love this book too Kelly. Part of the Essential Agreement students came up with was “mistakes make magic.” I agree as teachers sharing our mistakes with students is really powerful in their learning. Thank you for sharing and that quote from the child is just beautiful!

  5. I also love Beautiful Oops, what a wonderful connection to make so students feel know it’s ok to make mistakes… it’s how we learn 🙂 Sometimes, I think it can be difficult to explain to parents the importance of letting their children make mistakes and not have everything spelled perfectly, perfect grammar, etc. in a published or finished piece. A lot of this is cultural, do you find that similar obstacle at ISPP?

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