I Messed Up and a Student Saw It

It is day 65. The 65th day of reflection, looking for a moment to share. This evening, as I am replaying my day, I came to a simple moment that made me smile. It was as simple as tying a shoe. 

We all learn this simple task early on as a child, but like any task, it takes practice. As I was standing in the hallway today, I noticed a kindergarten student walking back to class who happened to have his shoes untied. Knowing there was a solid chance he would trip and fall, I stopped him and pointed out the untied laces on his shoes and let him know he needed to tie them. Without hesitation, this young man pointed out, he was not very successful at tying his shoes. He let me know he knew all of the steps, but just could not tie his shoes yet. 

As he put his shoe up on the bench in the hallway, he led me through each of the steps, telling me exactly what to do. He was right, he knew each of the steps and was able to tell me where he would get stuck. He got stuck just as you were pulling one bunny ear through the other. I appreciate he called them bunny ears, because that was the same terminology I used. (Great minds) Lending a hand and following each of his steps, I crossed the laces, made the bunny ears, and as I went to pull the bunny ear through to complete the process, I messed up. 

His reaction, "That is the same place I mess up." 

Thankfully, I was able to try again and prove to this six year old that his principal does know how to tie shoes, but he left me thinking of two valuable lessons. 

First Lesson: Admit What You Cannot Do

At the age of six, this young man was quick to share what he had yet to figure out. He was transparent, open and honest about what he could not do. As adults, how often are we transparent, open and honest about what we cannot do or what we do not know? Is there something wrong with admitting you do not know how to do something? It may take a certain level of humility, but if you can admit you do not know everything, you allow yourself the opportunity to learn something new. Or in this case, you keep practicing what you cannot do yet, until you are able to do is successfully. 

Second Lesson: We All Mess Up

Even as something as simple as tying a shoe gets messed up from time to time. You should have seen the look on this students face when he realized I messed up tying his shoe. We all mess up. We mess up simple things and sometimes we mess up major things. Either way, messing up happens and sometimes our mess ups happen in front of others. Messing up in front of this student showed him that messing up is OK. It showed him that we all make mistakes, that no one is perfect, and with practice, partnered with a growth mindset, we can show improvement. 

As educators, we are faced with the challenge of preserving the innocence our kindergarten students possess. How do we let students know it is OK to let us know what they are not able to do and it is OK messing up trying to get better at it? 

Maybe we are guilty of doing what I did today? I did what he could not do for him. Yes, it was only tying a shoe, but let's be mindful of giving students opportunities to express what they cannot do "YET" and making sure they know it is OK to mess up, while they try to improve. 

What was your moment today? 

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