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Paducah Public Schools News Article

Superintendent's Blog: Celebrating Mistakes

The article goes on to offer three things teachers and parents can do to help students cultivate a growth mindset. They can:

1) Teach students that the brain is malleable,
2) Praise the process, not the person, and
3) Celebrate mistakes.

I was reminded of the value of celebrating mistakes when I watched a video of students at Clark Elementary learning to skate. What's great is how the kids respond to the process of learning to skate. Their arms flail as they try to keep balance. They take tiny steps as they try to stay upright and going forward. They fall down. But they seem to know, almost intuitively, that just because they are not zipping around the gym floor in the first five minutes it doesn't mean that they are "bad skaters" who will never learn to skate. They fall down, they get back up, and they try again. And you can almost literally see the synapses firing and forming new networks as eyesight and muscles learn to coordinate. And it’s fascinating to watch is how engaged they are in the process.

Here's how the article puts it:

Students learn the most when they do challenging work, make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes. Unfortunately, many students think that making a mistake is one of the worst things they can do in school. To help change this attitude, parents and teachers can change the way they talk about and respond to mistakes, and they can show students that they value the learning process over getting the right answer.

Productive struggle- not just repeating careless mistakes but trying to make sense of a problem, exploring different approaches to the problem, asking questions, making educated guesses, and trying out different ideas to move a problem forward - creates an environment where mistakes can be celebrated because they move us closer to the solution.

This is the kind of culture we want in our classrooms, in our school district, in Paducah, and in West Kentucky.

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