40 Teaching Blunders (Or Opportunities)

English: 030901-N-6967M-064 Students in Bahrai...Image via Wikipedia

The Ottawa Citizen ran a story entitled Another 40 Business Bloopers and the teacher in me saw immediate parallels to the classroom.

Here are a few of my favourites from the article.

4. Not empowering subordinates to challenge and correct you.

Teachers make mistakes. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you make a mistake in the classroom. I know I’ve had a few occasions where a student has caught me making a small error or blunder. Every time this happens, I praise the student, make the correction, and use it as a teaching point to show that not only do we all make mistakes, but that we can help each other out to improve our own work.

8. Not understanding that feedback – from teachers, peers, staff – is a gift.

Students need to be taught to look at their marked work when they get it back, to look at the mistakes they have made, and to learn from them. This directly relates to point number 4 above. A bad mark on a paper or assignment is really an opportunity to improve on the next assignment. We should all strive to do our best and to use the feedback we get to make that happen.

10. Treating dissatisfied students as problems rather than opportunities.

I believe that there is a way to engage and to reach every child. This is the principle behind differentiated learning. It’s a difficult thing to do as we need to address a multitude of concerns in the classroom. But it can be done. We just need to pay attention to each and every student we teach.

13. Not keeping a special notebook or digital document to record ideas for new products and tactics.

Whenever I get inspired to try something new, I just try it. I like to improvise in the classroom and although I plan my lesson and day out very thoroughly, sometimes I will abandon that plan to try something new. Other times, I make a mental note, share something on Twitter or on Google+ that I know I want to try later.

17. Not telling students you have confidence in their decisions

If you show that you believe that your students are capable of making their own choices, they will often surprise you by not only meeting, but exceeded your expectations. They also need to hear this message, so make sure you tell them that you believe in them.

25. Settling for average. Never accept an idea, initiative or assignment  without asking “what could we do to make this unforgettable?”

If a student hands me a piece of work in which I know they haven’t put in their best effort, I will ask them if they think it is their best work. Half of the time, the student will look at it, say, “No,” and head back to his or her seat to improve the work. The other half of the time, the student needs a gentle reminder, or some coaching on how they can improve the work. This also relates back to point 8.

34. Not carving out more time for yourself. it’s not just about balance – you’ll get your best ideas when you’re relaxing, running, or playing with the kids.

Very true. There is often an avalanche of work on our desks and things calling for our attention. Some teachers work before school, after school, and bring work home. Don’t make your career a 24 hour / 365 day a year affair. I have a policy to Keep It At School that helps me keep that balance.

That was a useful exercise.

As teachers and students we can learn from everything around us, which I think is another great lesson we should pass on to our students.

Thanks to Randy Wilson for the story and the link. If you enjoy art, go check out some of his talented pieces.

For more Teaching Tips, check out the Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive or leave a comment below to add to the discussion.

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2 responses to “40 Teaching Blunders (Or Opportunities)”

  1. Hi Chase .. seems a very good article and a good resource for you to use – that's why I also put things into my blog that I'll use or refer to later on …

    These extracts are really useful for all sorts of organisations .. charities, care homes etc etc ..

    Cheers Hilary

  2. Hi Hilary,

    Isn't it amazing how our blogs can become scrapbooks of things we want to keep and look back on at a later date?

    Specific advice for any venture can often be broad enough to apply to an educational setting, just like you said.

    Have a great weekend!