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- Band-Aiding The Mental Health of Our Children - November 23, 2018
- We Must Love Them - November 5, 2018
- Take One For the Team: The Need for Self-Care - August 19, 2018
- The New Teacher Smell - August 19, 2018
I still do spelling tests in my classroom. I know some schools have gotten away from weekly spelling tests, for one reason or another. I feel that it is an important skill to continue through all grades.
We are two weeks into school, the second spelling test, and it happened. One of my overachievers melted down from not getting a 100% on this week’s test. Big tears. Sobs.
Now mind you, I don’t make a huge emphasis on getting a 100%. I don’t hang up names on charts or bring in the band to celebrate those who get a 100%. This student simply wanted the fact of being able to say she received a 100%.
These students hold a special place in my heart.
You see these are the students who make my job of finding teachable moments easy to come by. These are also the students who will never forget the lesson I am about to teach.
As this student sobbed into my shoulder as I held her, I gently pulled her back and pointed to one of my favorite posters hanging on my wall.
“Read those words for me, sweetheart.” I said as I looked at the poster with her.
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. (Albert Einstein)” She read.
“Do you know what that means?” I asked. She shook her head. So I asked her if she wanted to know what I thought it meant. She nodded.
So I told her. I told her that making mistakes is the best part of life. I told her that taking a spelling test is new to her and that it takes some getting used to. I told her that if we don’t make mistakes we never learn. I told her that I may be a good teacher, but mistakes are the BEST teacher.
She had missed the word ‘together’; she put an ‘f’ where the ‘th’ should have been. Very common for a young speller. I asked her if she had remembered how to spell it correctly. She looked at me and said exactly what I had just stated: she had replaced the ‘th’ with an ‘f’. She then spelled it correctly. T-O-G-E-T-H-E-R. She will remember how to spell it from now on.
We must take the time to point out to our students that making mistakes is okay. Instead of just marking wrong answers with a red pen, we need to make sure they understand where the mistake was made and how to correct it.
Sometimes this is a very tall order.
With class sizes growing, our feet being held to the fire with testing and kids not having the support at home that is needed to ensure success, it’s difficult to make sure that students are getting the feedback they need. But this is a crucial part of TEACHING. It’s an even more crucial part of LEARNING. Sometimes the entire definition of educating is overlooked. Educating is not standing up in front of a classroom of kids and simply going through the provided curriculum. Educating is not just grading and recording numbers to generate a progress report or report card. Educating is not teaching to a standardized test in order to raise scores for funding.
Educating is the process of making sure that lifelong-learning is taking place. Educating is the process of creating students who can self-regulate, recognize when a mistake has been made and step back to find a different perspective for solving a challenge.
So making mistakes is a big deal in my classroom. It’s one of the best teaching tools I have in my toolbelt.
How are you helping your students use their ‘mistakes’?