Practice Being Wrong

Students practice being wrong in front of their peers to normalize learning from errors and make risk-taking safe.

Photo of Michael Fauteux
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The teacher, particularly at the start of a school year, facilitates a daily practice of students publicly being wrong in front of their peers. As a first step, the teacher should ask students what it is like to take a risk and share an idea and be wrong. They should ask what their biggest fears are and do an individual / pairshare about it to make the fears visible.


On a regular basis, the teacher should have students answer a question but be told they cannot do so correctly. The teacher then role-plays a response like, "That's a great effort but not quite right. Try again?" or "Does anyone have a way to build on that idea?" The teacher can also redirect to have the class answer with something like, "What do you think about that?" 


The teacher gives students sentence stems like "I agree/disagree with ______ because ______" to support their interactions. A teacher knows when they've gotten to a good place with this when students start regularly respond with sentence stems in a regular setting and start to roll their eyes with repeated practice as a class in the contrived setting.


This practice is particularly effective in math classes where fixed mindsets can dominate.


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Photo of John Faig
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Seems obvious, but rarely done. Research shows teachers jump in too quickly to "save" struggling students.