‘Teachers should be allowed to make mistakes without fear’

The freedom to fail is one we try to grant to our students at will. We tell them to push their boundaries, we tell them to try their best and not to fear failure, we push the growth mindset mantra. We pick them up when they fall down and we always start with a clean slate. But with the adults in school too often it’s a different story. Tes reports. 

Teachers should also be able to make mistakes without fear – multiple mistakes. They should be able to utterly fail in a variety of areas, perhaps not indefinitely, but certainly for a while. They should be allowed to make those mistakes. They should be allowed to find their own path to improvement and not be “directed” down a certain avenue. They should be actively encouraged to figure out what works for them.

In schools today, the drive to improve “standards” and secure “rapid improvement” often leads to a set of behaviours that make teachers scared to experiment, scared to innovate and scared to learn. Perhaps the worst offshoot of this culture is a reticence to approach colleagues or leaders with the opening gambit “I don’t know what I’m doing” or “I have completely messed up”.

I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve worked with leaders who I’ve been able to go to and say “I’ve messed up”. I remember one particular example where I thought I had lost some coursework, I was in a state of monumental stress and had no hesitation in texting him to share my quandary, to which I received the response “Don’t worry, they’ll turn up” (they did).

Contrast that with teachers who feel they have to strike a DfE-style pose every time a school leader walks past their classroom. Contrast that with teachers who spend longer than their own students making books “look good”, cutting and sticking and arranging, so if anyone comes into their classroom, they can share them. Contrast that with the teacher who is scared to be seen in the staff car park before a certain time on a Friday. The list goes on.

Failure is as important as success in teaching and learning. Recognising that creates more effective teachers in the long term

Read the full article ‘Teachers should be allowed to make mistakes without fear’

How big is fear factor in your school? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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