Tag Archives: behavior management

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 capableРa very powerful message that ties back to the whole idea that we need to praise kids for hard work instead of intelligence, (<Рone 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 ūüėČ

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Teaching: An End to Week 16

Here is a little secret about teachers, or at least the ones I know. We number the school weeks from 1 to 40 as we plan. Week 16 just ended, reminding me we are almost halfway done. Still so much to learn. All those fractions, to decimals, to percents driving my kids crazy. Winter break just two weeks off. Gingerbread houses dangling over their heads like the promise of Santa watching to reward those who are naughty and those who are nice.

When I think of all the weeks I have already survived, I see a bumpy road of highs and lows. This week, thank goodness, was a high. My students worked hard, behavior was good. Only one student went to the office. Consistent behavior management is paying off, even if sometimes it feels painful. I get it though. When you let things slip, each slip gains momentum until suddenly you find yourself in the middle of disaster. Better to be consistently firm.

Week 16 was bittersweet. One of my students rapped in front of the school on Friday for our weekly Town Hall, telling the students “We don’t be rude, we be polite,” teaching assertiveness with four hundred little pairs of hands waving along with him. Still, his friend sat in the bleachers sulking because he lost his chance on the mic. Consistency is hard sometimes, even if it means you care enough about someone to recognize the long-term benefit.

It is strange how two years with the same kids makes you care about them so deeply. I know it goes both ways. They often call me Mom by mistake, the familiarity sometimes confusing when they’re not paying attention. I always respond in a syrupy voice, “Yes, darling?” Then we laugh. That’s the thing. When you spend more than six hours a day directly interacting in one small room, day in and day out, you really do become a family. Even my toughest kids, the ones who would never crack last year, can be made to smile in the middle of their fits.

So, as week 16 ends, I am reflective. I worked so hard to get this little motley crew to care about each other, and now they do, but soon enough they’ll be off to middle school and I’ll be left to start over again. I know this is teaching and I’m not sad exactly, just reflective. We have grown so much and I am grateful to be at a high point instead of a dip.

I leave you with my teaching team’s idea of a good joke. Our Napoleon Dynamite inspired snack day, a quesa-dila bar. Amazing how a little laughter at work makes the day better.

You're invited!

Teacher's Lounge

Tots

Quesadilla Bar

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The Birth of Our Inspiration Wall

Rome was not built in a day. ¬†Over the past 24 hours, I’ve repeated this little mantra in my head over and over. ¬†Why? ¬†Because school starts in five days and my to-do list is already long enough to claim my time for weeks. ¬†No joke. ¬†If I did everything I wanted to for my classroom and students, I would not have time to even sleep at night.

So, I’ve been reminding myself that Rome was not built in a day. ¬†Instead of trying to accomplish everything, (which is really impossible, because there is always something more I could do, no matter how many things I cross off my list), I am giving myself windows of time to work my absolute hardest and then giving myself a break. ¬†I discovered last year that trying to do everything just led to burnout and made me a worse teacher. ¬†The law of diminishing returns, I suppose.

Accordingly, as I feel my stress levels rise, I tell myself to relax, do what I can, then be happy about it. ¬†In this spirit, I decided to make myself a little sign for my classroom wall that says simply, “Relax.” ¬†Last year, as I navigated my first ten months on my own, I discovered an amazing little secret that too often escaped me. ¬†While students put on shows or some other momentary chaos unfolded, I just relaxed, took a deep breath, and waited patiently before reacting. ¬†This literally changed my teaching life, although some times it was easier done than others.

Thus, the importance of my new classroom reminder. ¬†As I made myself this sign, I reflected on how I always make myself little positive notes around the house, my old cube, my desk at work. ¬†Until recently, our refrigerator touted “Today is the best day of your life,” “Act like you want to feel,” and “I am grateful for _____,” all written on small notecards. ¬†My old work computer had a sticky that said “Posture.” ¬†You get the idea.

Thinking about these notes and what they mean to me, I realized they mean something to my students too. ¬†During STAR testing last May, when we had to cover all instructional materials on our walls, I made little signs with motivational words, like “Believe in yourself,” “You can do it,” “Mrs. M believes in you.” ¬†When the students walked in, I was surprised by how many little voices were reading the signs aloud, smiles on their faces. ¬†The signs remained on the walls for two weeks and I caught their eyes tracing the words over and over again.

So, in making the relax sign for myself, I realized it was not only for me. ¬†The students will see it too, and hopefully, they’ll internalize its message. ¬†That’s when it occurred to me that this sign should go above our focus desk, where students take time outs in front of a poster of Machu Picchu. ¬†This inspired me to make other signs, which quickly resulted in a renaming of this desk to the inspiration wall. ¬†Now, I plan to invite students to contribute what inspires them, be it a few words or pictures, to hang alongside my inspirations.

New words for my evolving inspiration wall.

Hopefully these words will be inspiring to at least one student that visits the inspiration wall for a break… I’m excited to see what they add to the wall themselves. ¬†We had a really cool class motivation collage full of pictures of their families and heroes last year. ¬†It will be awesome if we can take the idea a step further with this wall.

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