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Monday, August 22, 2011

Planning to fail

The first day of school, I actually plan and hope that my students fail. I know that sounds a bit strange.

For example, I hope they fail at lining up correctly the first time. Why would you want that? You have been given the opportunity to teach them where your limits are and what you expect. If they do it perfectly the first time (unlikely anyway), they don't really know where the limits are.

Why should you plan for them to fail? Well, it is much easier for you to come up with your backup plan before the first day of school than it is in the moment. You ask them to line up and someone is talking and what do you do now? You don't want to jump to discipline, this is a prime teaching moment. You also don't want to be stressed for time!

What do I do?
  • We all sit back down. I'm not stressed about them being late for lunch, because I planned for this. If they do it perfectly (unlikely) we can do it again and try to beat our time. (Even fifth and sixth graders will practice this 4 or 5 times if I use a timer and make it into a game!)
  • As a class we review the purpose of lining up quickly and quietly.
  • We review the expectations.
  • I give positive feedback to the students that did it correctly.
  • I have the students who had a hard time demonstrate the incorrect way and the correct way. 
  • We practice till we can do it correctly with lots of positive feedback along the way for the students who are doing the right thing.
 So take a moment and take time to plan for mistakes. It will help your students be successful for the rest of the year!

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