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12 Valuable Mistakes to Make This Year

By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller

Spirit Whisperers make mistakes, often on purpose. To move into the land of Spirit Whispering, consider making the following mistakes.

  • Make the mistake of over-expecting. High expectations are better than low expectations for your students and for yourself.
  • Make the mistake of not following the prescribed curriculum exactly. You know when and where to dance away from the script. No one knows your students better than you do. Become an occasional deviate when it comes to the curriculum.
  • Make the mistake of trusting your students not to cheat. Some might. So what? At least you communicated by your behavior that you do not expect cheating. If some do cheat, you now have the data you need to motivate yourself to design an appropriate learning experience that will help them learn from that experience.
  • Make the mistake of making mistakes in front of your students. This will give you valuable opportunities to help students learn how adults effectively deal with errors.
  • Make the mistake of having no plans one day. Ask students what they want to do to solidify, increase, or demonstrate learning of the material you have been teaching. See what happens.
  • Make the mistake of giving your students a do-over on a recent quiz. Allow them to use their books and other resource materials. Observe what happens.
  • Make the mistake of allowing students to sit by their friends. Tell them that opportunity equals responsibility. As long as they choose to maintain the responsibility that accompanies sitting by their friends, their opportunity to do so will remain unchanged. If they choose to lower the responsibility, they are choosing to have the opportunity reduced as well.
  • Make the mistake of leaving your materials at home one day. Demonstrate for students how you can cope regardless of what materials you have. Demonstrate ingenuity and problem solving.
  • Make the mistake of allowing students to overhear you talking about them to someone else. Say only positive words and affirming concepts.
  • Make the mistake of misplacing your glasses, teacher’s edition, or papers you corrected last night. Ask students to suggest possible solutions, strategies, or attitudes that might be helpful in such a situation.
  • Make the mistake of creating several distractions during a silent reading period. Debrief with students how they handled the distractions. Create a list of positive ways to ignore distractions.
  • Make the mistake of demonstrating an experiment without first doing a practice run at home. Hope some things go wrong. Invite students to help you recognize what can be learned from the experience.

Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the coauthors of The Teacher Talk Advantage: Five Voices of Effective Teaching. They are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish a free monthly e-zine for educators and another for parents. To sign up for the newsletters or learn more about the seminars they offer teachers and parents, visit their websites today: www.chickmoorman.com and www.thomashaller.com

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