It’s Okay To Make Mistakes

stand & grow

This photo belongs to Denise Carbonell.

Yesterday was a PA Day, and in the morning, the teachers met to discuss the three part math problem that all of us completed throughout the week. Before meeting as smaller teams, our Math Facilitator explained to us what a three part math problem should look like. We should have a quick 10 minute introductory lesson, followed by the 20 minute problem, followed by the final 20 minute reflection. As I was sitting there listening, I thought to myself, “Oh no, I did this wrong.”

That’s when the learning started. Right away, I thought about my introductory lesson. I loved the Smartie Book that my teaching partner and I created, and I would use this book again. I wouldn’t have had the children solve the entire Smartie Problem though. Next time, I would just read the book, and get a few students to come up to the SMART Board to share some various solutions. I would let them explain their thinking, while also getting the rest of the class thinking about other possibilities.

Then I would do the Fish Problem. I wouldn’t worry about all of the students completing the problem. I would likely give them closer to 30 minutes, as they are younger, and the writing part does take a longer time to complete. In 30 minutes though, many of the students would finish, or at least get enough done to share their ideas with the class. Finished or not, it’s the learning that matters.

As for the reflection, I enjoyed using the Livescribe Pen for this, and students definitely responded well to sharing their ideas orally. Instead of having one student at a time record their reflections though, I might ask a question, then draw a dot on the page, and just let the students converse to share their ideas as a group. Capturing this conversation would be wonderful! I would also like to try out a Lino It wall for this reflection piece. My students love using these online sticky notes to share their thoughts, and they could work in their partner groups to add these sticky notes to the wall. Coupling the visual of the Lino It Wall with the auditory of the Livescribe Pen could be neat too. Now I have lots to think about!

I always tell my students that it’s okay to make mistakes, but it’s what we learn from these mistakes that matter. I did make a mistake when I did this lesson, but I learned a lot from this mistake too. I look forward to trying a three part lesson again, and knowing what I know now, seeing what happens when I do it correctly!

When have you made a mistake? What did you learn from this experience? I’d love for all of us to be able to celebrate in our mistakes, and more importantly, in what we learned and how we changed!


14 thoughts on “It’s Okay To Make Mistakes

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention It’s Okay To Make Mistakes | A Primary Blog For The 21st Century --

  2. Thank you for sharing about your “mistake” during your math lesson. (Love the visual too, by the way.)
    I make mistakes all the time and usually confess them to the students during or after (model, model, right?) For instance, with a grade 5/6 class, we were examining what makes a good blog post. I pulled up a student-friendly one created by someone who volunteers at an animal shelter. No one was focused at all. There was just talking and talking and I couldn’t tell what most of them were going on about. Half-way through, I realized that I had presumed they had a lot more background knowledge on the topic of pets than they truly had. I did a survey – out of 30 kids, only about 6 ever had pets. Most of those were fish, bought from a pet store. None of them had ever been to the pound and thought it was just another place to sell animals, just that the animals weren’t as good as in the pet store. I tried to back-peddle a bit and explain things, but then it was no longer as interactive (just one talker and many half-listeners). It reminded me that to assume makes an ass out of “u” and me. Now to do some thinking and talking about how to make the next library lesson better.

    • Thanks for your comment! I’m so glad that you shared your mistake here too. I make many mistakes in class as well, and I think that it’s good for students to see our mistakes. It makes them realize that we’re not perfect either, and hopefully, it makes them more willing to learn from their mistakes too.


  3. The fear of making a mistake in front of students often prevents many of us from becoming better at what we do. Before we can convince our students it’s ok to make mistakes, we must convince ourselves.

    • Very well said. I completely agree! By making mistakes in front of our students though, we show our students that it’s okay to make mistakes. This may be something that we tell them, but I think that it’s so much more powerful to show them this.

      Thanks for your comment!

  4. Thanks for sharing with us an example of “Teachers as Learners.” Learning from our mistakes is an important form of learning. When our students witness this part of learning, as you described in your comment above, it does help them learn to take risks in their own learning.

    It sounds like your classroom environment is that of a beautiful learning community!


    • Thanks for your comment, Kathy! I think it’s important for the classroom to be a “learning community,” and I definitely strive to do this. As my students know, I make many, many mistakes, and I think that this helps make them more willing to take risks and make mistakes too. It’s what we learn from these mistakes that matter.


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  6. Aviva,
    We all make mistakes and that’s what makes us human. We continually tell parents and kids that is how real learning happens and that it’s ok. Think back to when you first started teaching and how those mistakes along the way helped you become the teacher you are today. You would want it to have happened any other way.
    Love the visual. May I share it with a new teacher I’m mentoring?
    Have a great week,

    • Thanks for the comment, JoAnn! I completely agree. I’ve definitely made many mistakes along the way, and I think that these mistakes have definitely made me a better teacher. You can certainly share away!:)


    • Thanks Kelly! I do think that I could have changed each of the parts a bit though, but those changes will come with practice and more time to try out the three part problem. I look forward to doing this!


  7. I think the thing that separates awesome teachers from other ones is the way one approaches and learns from mistakes. Mistakes should not just be tolerated, but actually encouraged.

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