It’s OK to make mistakes

Do not feel bad about your mistakes or those of others. Love them! Remember that one: they are to be expected; two: they’re the first and most essential part of the learning process; and three: feeling bad about them will prevent you from getting better.  —- Ray Dalio

For a long time, I thought I had to be perfect.

And, in being so imperfect most of the time, if not all the time, it left me feeling pretty lousy, personally and professionally.  Almost needless to say with any person who is horrified by making mistakes, I spent years not taking any risks and not learning anything new about myself or my profession. Not until I started to open my mind and willingness within the last year, I realized that, “Man, I’ve fallen behind.”

With that in mind, I turn the focus to my final project for course 5, which is in progress, at the moment.

If I sat down to write this blog to share my experience about my COETAIL final project, and told you that it was going perfectly – just as I had dreamt – I’d be lying. Straight up lying.

LIAR by DonkeyHotey

My idea, at the time, seemed like a perfect plan. It wasn’t. It’s not.

I’m OK, though! It’s part of the process. Learning is messy. I’ve got to be content in knowing that I’m doing the best I can; I prepared the best I knew how; And I’m willing to adapt.  This is how we learn, right?

Side note: I truly hope our students learn to embrace their mistakes. Having a growth mindset is vital for anyone who wants to be a lifelong learner. We can’t ever stop seeking new opportunities to make mistakes! 

So, this post is rooted in the learning that has taken place in our library the last few weeks with grade 3,4,&5 students.  We’ve launched a reading initiative called “Reading to Win”

As far as technology with students in the library, there hasn’t been any interaction for a number of reasons. The biggest reason is this is our first year, and we just got our library website up a couple months ago.

I grossly miscalculated student tech abilities. I didn’t know my students well enough to properly plan my course 5 final project. My proposals for the project seemed like a good idea at the time.

I knew setting up the account was going to be difficult. So I made a how-to video for students.

I see the kids once a week, but a few students come in everyday, and these are the students I’m learning with. They’re helping me gauge where the project should go.

Bottom line – the goal of the project is to inspire students to read, but also to share their feeling and opinions about what they read with others. The badging is there to inspire students to try genres of books they otherwise might not read, and it’s also to get the competitive juices flowing. Lots of students seem to like this…

2 weeks into the project, I need to figure out where to take this, though.  Some students aren’t into at all. Some students are still trying to verify their email addresses to get on the platform. Some students are trying to read as many books as they can just to get the badges. Some are digging the idea of badging and reading. The responses to the reading have been great, though! I’d like to get more of a variety, as we move forward, though. So far, the responses have been letters to the author, alternate endings, and letters to characters and a few others.

I’ve reached to some folks in my PLN for some thoughts. Fortunately, there is someone with experience in using badging with students, and he’s given me a few suggestions. Mainly, keep with it and try new things. For example, having different levels of badges, and giving special “library privileges” for unlocking some badges. I’m also thinking about broadening this from a reading competition to a library competition that incorporates other skills. In other words, attach badges to skills. Easier said than done, from a library standpoint – but possible.

It requires collaboration with classroom teachers. Collaboration with classroom teachers requires relationship building. While I have been doing that with some classroom teachers, I’m new this year. It can’t be done over night.

I’m going to keep plugging away at this, working with my students, classroom teachers, and others in my network. I’m going to keep looking for more information about badging. There’s plenty out there.

I’ve already learned quite a bit. One of the things I’ve learned in COETAIL is how student influence is very powerful. So, I made this video about the few students who have jumped on board to get others excited.  It worked.

I started with a new class last week, and I think, now that I’ve gotten through some of the messy learning stuff, I’ll be better equipped to offer students a better badging/library experience.

I was a little stunned at the difference between grade 4 & 5. Grade 5 was much more tech savvy. Amazing what a year does for kids!


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One Response to It’s OK to make mistakes

  1. Ryan Harwood says:

    This is a great post Mike. I appreciate the sincerity of it as you lay out your learning and your struggles. As I read your previous post I was wondering how students could help you with the process. it seems they have already jumped in to do so. Perhaps they can help design the badges of the future as well. All good things come with a bit of struggle. I’m sure this will turn out fantastic in the end, it just might take a while to get there.


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