All those drawn to the teaching profession and those who have a sense of love and romance in the world are generally drawn to this quote (above). There are those who now find it a cliché, but even they would be forced to admit the first time they read this it stirred something inside, something of a dream for the person we all wish to be.
Why aren’t we that person? Why are we afraid to dance unless forced? Afraid to sing unless alone? Afraid to love unless we are guaranteed the love is going to be returned? Most of us live with a fleeting glance or hope of heaven once in a blue moon (or on school holidays). I think the answer is simple – Mistakes (or I could be wrong ;-/)
Mistakes – we are terrified of making them, we are terrified they hurt. What if that were different? What if our mistakes felt good? Secure in the knowledge that each mistake brings us closer to the resolution of a problem and a step closer to heaven on Earth?
Most of this fear of mistakes and feeling bad about making them begins at home and is then strongly reinforced in the classroom. As teachers we all know we can do little about the home environment but within a classroom we need to celebrate mistakes. Celebrate the thinking and risk taking that led to the mistake that will eventually lead to the answer or the solution to a problem.
I reward my students for genuine thinking and effort and encourage them to have another go.
Language is the key to this. A simple dismissal in order to find the “correct” answer can lead to a student going back into their shell and not attempt to answer another question or take a risk for some time. Some of the language I use is:
“Oh, I love that thinking. Now let’s explore that idea.”
“I can see how you got to that, what a great idea, have you thought of this though……..?”
“I can see you were nervous taking a risk like that, I am so proud of you”
I also allow myself to make mistakes and point them out.
Work with student’s on perspective as well, discussing why they feel nervous and self-conscious of performance or classroom risk taking. This is great in a philosophy circle. Follow up these philosophy circles quickly with an activity that pushes the comfort zones of students with performance or risk taking.
Lets build a generation of:
Students who dance terribly but love it!
Sing woefully but can’t stop!
Love life and the world like they haven’t been hurt !
And help them truly find Heaven on Earth.