Today, I have taken a big step to help promote creativity, innovation, risk taking and trust with my faculty, staff and students at Belmont High School. The first page of the Belmont High School Faculty and Staff Handbook will no longer be a generic welcome page from the principal. The new page will now be called “Risks”.
What if I screw up?
Nobody has ever been fired at Belmont High School for making mistakes for trying to improve their curriculum, instruction or personal craft. It wouldn’t make sense for us to operate that way. Providing the freedom to fail is an important trait of Belmont High School – we couldn’t expect so much of individuals if we also penalized people for errors. Making mistakes are genuinely looked at as opportunities to learn. We can always repair the mistake or make up for it.
Screwing up is a great way to find out that your assumptions were wrong or that your curriculum, practice or instruction was a little bit off. As long as you update your model and move forward with a better picture, you’re doing it right. Look for ways to test your beliefs. Never be afraid to run an experiment, collect more data or differentiate your instruction.
It helps to make predictions and anticipate nasty outcomes. Ask yourself, “what would I expect to see if I’m right?” Ask yourself , “what would I expect to see if I’m wrong?” Then ask yourself , “what do I see?” If something totally unexpected happens, try to figure out why.
There are still some bad ways to fail. Repeating the same mistake over and over is one. Not listening to others before or after a failure is another. Never ignore the evidence; particularly when it says you’re wrong.
We at Belmont High School encourage and support risks to improve the teaching and learning of ALL our community members.