Last month my 5 year-old Jack was making Valentines for his classmates on the coffee table in the living room. As I was watching him, I heard him say quietly to himself, “that’s a beautiful oops.” I wasn’t sure that I had heard him clearly, and so I asked him what he’d said. He said it was a “beautiful oops,” and he explained that he’d messed up one of the hearts on his Valentines, but he had fixed it by drawing a flower on top of the mistake.

Indeed. It was beautiful to hear him say that! It’s a term that they use in his Kindergarten class, and there’s a super cute Beautiful Oops book. We’ve also been big fans of the PBS Daniel Tiger show, and I remember seeing an episode with the song lyrics, “When something seems bad, turn it around, and find something good.” But to hear him use that at home, while he was working on his own project, without any prompting, it was a bit astonishing! I sure hope it sticks.

In my role in professional learning, I’m encouraging and supporting employees through their own learning. This means pushing people (gently) out of their comfort zones, and supporting them along the way. I see mistakes as opportunities for reflection, learning, and growth. The fear of making mistakes can be paralyzing, even for faculty members who themselves know the value of mistakes to their own learning! That’s always incredible to me. But a friendly face and a helping hand nearby is sometimes just enough to get learners to take that risk. It’s a good way to connect them to their students, and I’ll often times remind them, “Yes, it’s scary to try something new. Imagine how your students feel!”

Here’s to the beautiful oopsies that lie ahead and to all the learning that they’ll bring.

 

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