Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Learning From My Mistakes- Writing Edition

I will be extremely honest with all of you, I am not a perfect teacher.  I do not have all the answers or solutions, I do not have the perfect lesson plans, and I do not stick to my time schedule.  I am, instead, a human being who gets frustrated, stressed out, and makes plenty of mistakes.  After 8 years of teaching and my fair share of mistakes, I have learned to embrace those mistakes.  I often go home the day of the mistake and process what went wrong and what I needed to change.

Here is a perfect example of learning from my mistakes....

When lesson planning for this week, I figured I would make the most of my writing block and incorporate health.  This being relatively easy to do because February is Dental Health Month.  I laid out the plan and the steps I wanted to see my little owls take in writing and understanding more about their teeth.  We watched a few videos, discussed vocabulary, brainstormed, but then the reluctant writing piece came along.  :(

My owls have really been moving along with writing and I have been challenging them with some more specific writing pieces these days.  For some unknown, I blame this terrible winter, reason, my little owls just forgot what writing was.  Kind of hard to get them to write about brushing their teeth and using graphic organizers when writing a word was foreign to them.

This is now not my proudest teaching moment, but I will share to help you not make my same mistake.  I knew right away on Monday when I started our lesson, this was not a writing kind of week.  Instead of addressing this and taking the needed steps backwards, I pushed us forward.  Insert Tuesday's teacher meltdown moment!!!!  I put on the video I had planned, we talked about the steps that we take to brush our teeth, wrote them in a brainstorming column on our papers, and then all bets were off.  I modeled and talked about how to take those steps, put them in order, and then to make them into complete sentences.  The blank stares at this point should have told me to turn around and run, but it was in my lesson plans and it had to be done.  From this moment forward, I spent plenty of time saying, "Hold on," "We went over that," and "Didn't you pay attention?"

After I reached the point of utter frustration, I collected their work and tried to breath.  I knew that I needed to approach this lesson differently, but how????  I went home that night and thought about what needed to be done (what was important) and what just wasn't working.  I knew the videos were hooking the little owls, so I found a new one on youtube.  I watched it a couples of times and realized I needed concrete objects for the owls to see and touch to help them put their steps in order for writing.  I put together this bag....

Inside were all of the things I would need to brush my teeth properly.  I had the owls help me recall what objects were used based on the video and in what order.
(The water bottle was used to symbolize the water that needed be used to wet the toothbrush.  Then there is a toothbrush, toothpaste, cup for rinsing our mouths, and a single use floss.)
As the owls helped me with object order, I added the sequential words like first, next, then, and last.  After we repeated the order several times in complete sentences using sequential words, we moved to the Smartboard.
Here I projected the writing paper they were going to use and modeled how to write on the lines what we had just said together and to illustrate the sentences in the boxes.  I had the owls provide me with parts of the sentences to allow for more ownership, which is something that the previous day's lesson lacked.  I handed out their papers and allowed them to go for it.  I am pleased to say that their writing was much better today and it was due to my ability to address my own mistakes and to correct what I could.
Sorry to have written a novel of a blog post, but I wanted to show how teachers make mistakes and that it is perfectly fine.  I do not view myself as a poor teacher because my lesson didn't go well, but I know that once it was reviewed and retaught, my owls got a whole lot more out of it and their writing really showed it.
Don't forget that TPT is also having a huge sale Thursday and Friday to celebrate the huge milestone of being 3 million teachers strong!  My whole store will be 20% during those two days. 



  1. A good teacher finds out how their children learn best. A great teacher changes herself to make their children succeed. I know someone else has said it better, but I applaud you on finding a way for them to catch on.

  2. Erin, you SHOULD see yourself as an AWESOME teacher because you tried something that didn't work like you wanted/thought it would, thought about it, fixed it, and made it better. That is exactly what a great teacher is! Thank you for sharing this. And you could probably have the most successful linky party ever about teacher mistakes if that would make you feel better. ;)
    Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together

  3. Erin, fellow southeastern WI blogger, we are in this together. I have been in that same mode, where I just feel like this winter has got the best of all of us. GREAT post. Thank you for sharing this! We all need to come together when we feel this way. Looking back at my April 1st blog, I feel this same way.... There is never enough time. I am always trying to strive to be a better teacher. You are doing great things! Keep it up!
    You're So Sharp!