Celebrate Those Mistakes, Darn it!

I made a mistake today at work. I hate making mistakes. It was one of those memorable mistakes that I’ll carry with me until it is fully resolved. I wish I could explain more, but this is not the right forum. In simple terms, I put too much trust in a child who could not handle it.

At my last job, I made a big mistake early on. I prepared a presentation for my boss to deliver to the heads of a major bank but left out 90 or so of the 100+ slides. It was an error in communication. I misunderstood. As I sat by his side in a San Francisco high-rise, I had my first “oh, shit” moment at work. Thankfully, he did not fire me and everyone laughed. I got off easy.

It’s funny. I’m working to reframe how students see mistakes in my classroom. Maybe I should take my own advice. Instead of being embarrassed, I invite students to celebrate their mistakes and explain what they learned from them. Everyone grows in listening to each other. Students that participate are put on our Shout-Out Board for the week, under the heading, “Our most awesome mistakes we learned from!” They love it.

We kicked off this shift with a presentation about growth vs. fixed mindsets, emphasizing that intelligence is not fixed but earned through hard work. Sure some people have to work harder to get to the same place, but everyone is capable– a very powerful message that ties back to the whole idea that we need toΒ praise kids for hard work instead of intelligence, (<– one of my favorite articles on parenting/teaching of all time).

Chart credit Pinterest.

Credit Pinterest.

Some companies are taking a similar approach by celebrating employees’ mistakes at work. Apparently, some pretty darn intelligent people believe that celebrating mistakes fuels innovation, risk-taking, and minimizes the repetition of company-wide mistakes made in the future. For all my business-minded readers out there, I recommend clicking that link.

So, tonight, instead of beating myself up, I wrote this post to celebrate the fact that I am human, I take risks and I make mistakes. The more I think about it, the more I also see that many of the risks I take at school pay off. Without my creative approaches to behavior management, I would not survive my job. While it sucks that I failed this time, I will make better mistakes tomorrow. Mission accomplished, mistake celebrated.

"I will make better mistakes tomorrow." Credit Pinterest. Side note: I'm a big fan of this tattoo positioning, had been thinking about one on my wrist, but like this better I think... Different words, though.

“I will make better mistakes tomorrow.” Credit Pinterest. Side note: I’m a big fan of this tattoo placement… Just saying πŸ˜‰

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10 thoughts on “Celebrate Those Mistakes, Darn it!

  1. Sean says:

    I make the mistake of sometimes forgetting to embrace the growth and learning opportunities of mistakes my kids make. The pressure of time is what seems to work against this incredibly important tact.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      That’s an easy mistake to make. It’s the same in my classroom. With 30 kids and a lot to teach, I often want to move on instead of fully trying to understand why they made the mistakes they did… But, I’m learning it is worth it.

  2. kingmidget says:

    Interesting post … I have kids who have been praised for their intelligence their entire childhood, and they want to take on challenges, but then they don’t put in the effort needed to do them as well as they could. My oldest takes AP classes, but doesn’t want to have to work hard. They both want to play goalie for their high school soccer team, but don’t want to put in any extra work.
    As for your comment about mistakes — I divide bosses into two categories. Those that recognize their employees are human and make mistakes and those that don’t. I try to be the former because you’re right, mistakes provide one of the best avenues for learning there is. I go back to my kids, when they were younger and did something “stupid” they frequently would be concerned I would get mad at them (which, some times, I might have), but oftentimes, I would look at what had happened and use it as an opportunity to talk about what we could learn from what had happened as a result of what they had done.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      I grew up praised primarily for my intelligence and I think it influenced me to focus on endeavors I knew I would be good at as opposed to trying things where I might fail. Teaching is the first thing I have ever put my heart into where I was not good from the start.

      In the beginning of my program, I really doubted I was cut out for it because I expected myself to succeed easily and it was not easy. I have always been a hard worker but it has also always been important to feel successful/great/smart in the process. Interestingly, my parents praised me more for hard work as I got older and I think it helped.

      Never to late to start πŸ˜‰

  3. nicole says:

    Love this post, I think it is important for kids to realize that their teachers, parents, other adults, etc., make mistakes, the most important thing is learning from it, we are human and going to continue making mistakes. There is a beautiful book called Beautiful Oops about how making mistakes can turn into something else. It is for the younger kids, but it is a nice book.

  4. Covetotop says:

    Time spent making mistakes is more useful than time spent doing nothing πŸ˜‰

  5. I do love the look of that tatoo!

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