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Life as a Student Teacher (Part 3)

Making Mistakes as the Teacher

Everyone is human. That feels like a dumb thing to say, but I think it's actually easy to forget that. Especially in a student-teacher relationship. Sometimes teachers forget that students are humans with lives, and vice versa. Students often view their teachers as a transmitter. An all knowing being that's here to transmit that knowledge to them.

But teachers are still human. What do humans do? They make mistakes. As a student teacher, I struggled with this a lot. Sometimes I still do. I am a French teacher. I have my degree in French. I have studied it for seven years. Today, I pronounced "Quart" wrong all day. My students didn't notice of course, but my mentor teacher did. He didn't get a chance to tell me until much later.

Sometimes I say the wrong thing, I am god-awful at reading aloud, and I still have to look up words on WordReference. I'm not perfect, and being brand new to teaching, I am exceptionally not perfect. Yet, I think the mistakes I'm making are important.

They are important for different reasons. One of them is that making mistakes is part of learning. If I wasn't making mistakes, I wouldn't be doing something right. I'm a brand new baby adult in this world, so I shouldn't think I can just join in without any speed bumps. I'm learning a lot from my mistakes, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to do so before having my own classroom. Though I have a feeling that my mistakes won't stop, even after my career as a student teacher is over, but that's okay too. For me at least.

Another reason is that it's important that my students know that I am human. They will feel less embarrassed and less afraid making mistakes with me, if they know that I make them too. We are all learning, always, and it's okay to make mistakes. My classroom will be welcoming of mistakes, because they are a part of the learning process and they mean I am doing something right as a teacher when they make mistakes at the beginning.

My only fear is looking like I am incompetent. To my peers, to my mentor teacher, and most importantly to my students. I worry that I will lose their respect messing up too much. The mistakes I make aren't too bad, but it can still be an issue. Can't it?

I can't worry too much. I think about in how Meet The Robinsons they celebrated mistakes and always said, "Keep moving forward." They're right, mistakes should be embraced and worked on, and we move on from them.

How can my students be okay with their mistakes if I can't be okay with my own? I must teach by example right? The best way they'll learn is to see that adults, even in subjects they're supposed to be experts in, can make mistakes too. So what does it matter if they say something wrong? Their teacher says things wrong too.

I think this is something teachers of any year or stage need to keep in mind. I worry I'm preaching to the choir, but honestly, it is so easy to forget that it's okay to make mistakes. I wanted to share my experience in hopes that it will help anyone in any line of work. We need to be able to forgive ourselves when we make mistakes. We'll be much happier in life if we live that way, even if sometimes we may feel a little stupid.

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