ONE YEAR WITH AN ENGLISH TEACHER
Day 152, Monday, May 19, 2008
Today, as usual, I made many mistakes, and one of them gave me an opportunity to discuss the value of mistakes with my students. Before class had begun, I had asked two girls to step out into the hall and take down some papers from the bulletin board. Unfortunately I forgot that I asked them to do this, and when they were late coming back to the classroom, I said something like, “Girls, please, you must try to get to class on time.” After one of them awkwardly reminded me of the favor I had asked, I immediately recognized my mistake and apologized to them, and admitted my blunder to the class. I then said, “Excuse me, boys and girls, but I want to make a note of the mistake I just made.” I took a small notebook from my back pocket and started to write a quick note about what had happened. At that point, Nancy asked, “Do you write down all of your mistakes, Mr. Salsich?” I quickly realized the opportunity she had given me, and so I took about two minutes out of the lesson to answer her question. I told the students that, yes, I do try to make a note of each mistake I make as a teacher, because that’s the only way I can learn how to be a better teacher. I said that each afternoon or evening, I look over my classroom notes and then write at least one paragraph in my teaching journal, and more often than not the writing is about a mistake I made that day. I try to analyze the mistake – see why I made it, what bad habit it grew out of, and how I can avoid it in the future. Then, the next morning before school, I peruse the journal entry again, just to remind myself of the mistake and what I plan to do to avoid it in the up-coming school day. The kids listened attentively as I explained all this, and I’m hopeful they’ll remember it. After all, they – like all of us – will make countless mistakes in their lives, and maybe my brief talk this morning will help them understand how to benefit from -- even be thankful for – their mistakes.
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