Giant Mistakes?: A Slice of Life

Friday, March 20, 2015

Writing teachers need to write themselves.
I am participating in the Slice of Life 2015 Challenge, 
where I attempt to write stories and narratives about moments in my life.
I apologize if this blog post veers off the informative "literacy lens" I usually write through.
This month I am pretending to be a writer, for my students' benefit (and my own).
Writers write. 

Major mistakes?
Big blunders?
Mighty misunderstandings?
Massive misinterpretations?
Enormous errors?
Fantastic faux pas?
Incredible inaccuracy?

What kind of mistakes would you have to make in order to need an eraser that big?

     Today, I went on a site visit to a neighboring district to see their dual language program in action.  My district is starting to make some changes so that we can move our bilingual classrooms towards a dual language program over the next few years.  I saw many things that changed my understanding of a bi-literate classroom, some of them pretty enormous.  I will be processing some of the things that I saw today for a while.  We have so many things in place already that will help us as we move towards these changes, but much to learn ahead.

     The image that I decided to blog about, though, was in the first classroom we went into this morning.  It coincidentally happened to be the sister of one of my former 2nd grader students (who is graduating high school this year and has been accepted to 4 colleges! #proudteacher).  On the middle of each of her clusters of desks was a shared supply cup containing some pencils and a giant pink eraser.

     It made me think about the message that eraser could send to our students...  

     It could be the message that "YOU need to fix your mistakes, and you all will make a TON of them."  

     Or, it could be "Mistakes are part of OUR shared life, so notice them and learn from them."

     Every mistake we make is the path to new learning. Life is full of mistakes, and therefore learning opportunities just waiting to be found.  In fact, the only constant in life seems to be change.  As we make major changes, planning and preparation helps us to make fewer major mistakes, but mistakes will always still be part of the process.  It's what we do about those steps off the path that makes the difference.

     As we move toward dual language, or continue to implement workshop model or 1:1 technology integration or full inclusion with coteaching, we need to remember that mistakes are just a part of the process.  Missteps happen along the way, and can ultimately take us to learning that far surpasses our originally intended path.  If our goal is simply to make our instruction the most beneficial for our students, and we just keep working toward meeting their needs, then we are moving in the right direction.  When we step away from our focus on the students, only then will that eraser need to fix our ton of mistakes.  If we keep students' best interests as our focus, then those mistakes will only lead us closer to our goals.

Energizing enlightenment
Refined reflection
Intentional illumination
Useful understanding
Lasting learning
Watchful wisdom

Perhaps having a growth mindset helps us see opportunity in our mistakes,
for both our teachers and our students.

     I appreciated the visit today for the district's shared insight on not only what is working for them, but also what didn't work so well.  Honest reflection is a powerful thing.  I especially appreciated the team of people who were there with me from my own district. Thanks +Gissel Escobedo +Jean Suchy +Liliane Gelacio +Lucy Carrera +Sonia Peralta +Jane Bagus for the conversations today.


  1. Your positive take on mistakes is the best. Edison created from mistakes. Post-notes were a mistake made great. Your beginning and ending poems were surperb.

  2. Love the positive approach..the alliterations where so special! Perfect transition from mistakes to greatness!

  3. What a great way to think about erasers. That part of this post alone, gets your reader thinking.
    What a reflective way to write about what you saw and the future of your district. Love this!