Sunday, March 20, 2011

MAC Week 3 - Comment 2

Screen capture of Paul Devoto's blog.
Paul's original post:
I would like to focus this blog entry on the idea of admitting your mistakes. This is referenced in Chapter 5 of the Art of Possibility when they described the typical behavior of those in positions of power who rarely admit to their mistakes. I learned how important this skill was in college when I was in charge of a group of 50+ peers who relied on my to make good decisions on behalf of the group at large. The person who led the group before me was very confident in his management and had a hawkish, boss-like personality. I never recall him ever admitting fault.

When I took over, I tried to be as humble as possible while still making well-reasoned executive decisions when needed. Whenever I made a mistake, I made it a priority to admit it publicly and share what I learned in the process. This helped the members to feel respected and also made my actions more transparent.

As a teacher, I make sure that my students understand this way of carrying themselves. I model it myself, never exaggerating that "I never make a mistake" or dismiss the mistake as trivial. Instead, I calmly and inquisitively analyze how I mistakenly came to the wrong conclusion and explain how I will do it differently in the future based on this mistake. I find that this makes kids more comfortable when they make mistakes and even encourages them to feel safe when participating in class.

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My comment:

Paul,
It's important to let our students know that we make mistakes. I make a point of letting my kids know that I make mistakes all the time. They get a kick out of the fact that I'm an English teacher and I still make misspell words when I'm writing on the board. I don't hide it because I want them to know that it's common to make mistakes, but you have to correct them and learn from them.
The other aspect I teach them is how to respectfully point out a mistake. I don't care if they let me know that I've made a mistake, as long as they are polite going about it. No one wants to be criticized for making a mistake, but they want the opportunity to correct it.

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