Sometimes in teaching, as in real life, you have to laugh it off. You are going to make mistakes and though you may be disappointed and even embarrassed, you have to laugh it off. It will be easier if you don’t take yourself too seriously. I can’t begin to tell you all the stupid mistakes I made as a beginning teacher. I even made a bunch when I got more experience under my belt. There is no rhyme or reason when it comes to making mistakes. It can happen to all people at any time. This is a good opportunity to be a great role model for our students. They are watching a teacher’s every move and how they react to different situations.
Just recently I knitted a pair of mittens. They were blue with a pink seahorse in it. When I finished it, I was so excited and proud of my accomplishment. I ran into the other room to show my husband what I had finished. Imagine my surprise when I tried them on! First I put on the left mitten and it fit perfectly. Then I went to put on the other one only to realize that I had made two left mittens!! For a moment, the shock made me want to cry. Then my sense of humor kicked in and I started to laugh. When I showed my knitting group, they felt so bad for me and then we turned it into a big practical joke. When new people would arrive, we would show off my mittens and say how beautiful they turned out. Then we would tell the person that they couldn’t appreciate the beauty until they tried both mittens on. When we watched their expressions on their face when they couldn’t put both on, it filled us with laughter. Laughing about this helped easy my pain.
Sometimes when I hit a rough patch in teaching, I need to find the humor in my situation. I’m not talking about a devastating event but a time when I’ve messed up and there is nothing to do but admit mistake and move on. Being able to laugh it off can help ease the embarrassment. It also helps others when they interact with me. I know I’ve been in a situation where I wanted to support a colleague when this happens to them but I’m not sure how to react or what to say. As I remember this, I can imagine what my colleagues feel at this time.
This also helps students see that an error is not a terror. They can see that they are not expected to be perfect and that everyone makes mistakes. When they see how I deal with my mistakes, it helps them handle their own. Too many times I have seen my students act like they are expected to not make any mistakes and they are paralyzed with fear. I have to get them past this point so that they are willing to take a risk and give something new a try.
How do you handle your own mistakes in class? Please share!
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).