Let students know it’s okay to make mistakes, you’ll learn just as much (and sometimes more) than when something works.

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Goal:

  • A classroom where you and your students work together to co-create a learning environment.
    • The goal is to prioritize good teaching, not to keep up the appearance of good teaching.

Reason:

  • Thinking like a scientist and an engineer involves embracing struggle and making mistakes.
  • Being open with your students will help them understand that both teaching and learning are hard work—teachers and students make mistakes.
  • For example, if you give a lecture that is incoherent or hard to follow, students might assume it’s their fault!
    • If you tell the class you made this slide deck too hard to follow, it’ll help them realize that not understanding might not be their fault, and that you’re working together to make learning happen.
  • For another example, if you give students an assignment or test that doesn’t accomplish your goals, be honest with the students about this.
    • Tell them how you’ll try to learn from this mistake next time.

Action:

  • Let the class know when you’ve made a mistake.
    • Admit your mistakes when teaching to show that making mistakes is part of any process and to prioritize student learning.
    • It’s vital that you remain calm and avoid becoming defensive for this to have its biggest impact.
    • These moments are also a great time to talk with your class about impostor syndrome.