Way back before 4×4 took over my classroom and nearly killed my program and me (Can I get an amen, Texas elective teachers?!), I was in my district’s Leadership Cohort two years in a row. The lessons learned were invaluable. One of the best wasn’t even on purpose (unless it was totally on purpose and the teacher just PRETENDED it wasn’t). We were playing this game to review previous months’ work. Our instructor Dr. Bennett threw out questions and we called out answers. It was a party-like atmosphere with everyone laughing and having fun. If we got an answer wrong, Dr. Bennett would tell someone to help us out. It was a completely safe atmosphere. A few minutes into the review, Dr. Bennett remembered she had this button to push if we got the answer wrong. One wrong answer with the wah-wah wrong answer sound and the whole atmosphere changed. People laughed at the wrong answers, but it felt like the person giving the wrong answer was laughed at. The party-like atmosphere turned into one of trepidation. No risks. Dr. Bennett put the button away and said she’d never use it again. It totally ruined the fun of the moment. Weird how a negative SOUND could change so much. There were no grades, the questions were the same, the people in the room were the same. It was just the negative connotation of the wrong answer button.
That’s really been hammered home for me this year…especially the last few days. We can’t always control everything in our rooms, but we can make them safe places for students to take educational risks and we can make sure we don’t start the day with a negative. That’s my goal for the next week and finals.