We all have one of those memorable mistakes. When I was 16, I worked at a sporting goods store. I loved it! I worked with a group of fun woman and we wore cute referee uniforms. One evening, we were yapping away and looking busy at the register when a young charming man walked in requesting change for his 50 dollar bill. He was friendly, complimented us on our uniforms, and even told us about some of the parties that were going on that evening. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but when my friend who was on register asked him what kind of change he wanted, he rattled something off like, 5 20s, 4 10s and 2 5s . Whatever it was that he requested she handed it over to him with a big smile, and he was out the door. It wasn’t until closing when our manager counted out the drawer that we realized we had been scammed. We all felt responsible for that one, but it was the one who was assigned to the register that had to take a walk with the manager the next day.
That mistake cost a hundred and something dollars, but it changed the way we operated. We all learned the importance of being at our assigned duty stations, and our manager had a greater presence on the sales floor. What I remember the most was that our manager never held it against us. He never operated in fear that we would make that mistake again. It was part of our learning and that 100 and something dollars was a small investment toward our ongoing growth. He could have let us go, or put us back in the stockroom, but he didn’t. See, he also realized that we brought something to that store. He could never purchase our light, energy and natural ability to woo customers with $100.00.
I thought about this story this week when I was speaking with teachers and administrators about using mistakes as learning opportunities. Now more than ever, experimentation and risk taking are important for all students in all learning environments. This requires the acceptance that mistakes are part of the learning process and the acknowledgement of the unique skills all learners bring to the table. I want to take time this week to reflect on my personal narrative surrounding this topic. Does my narrative embody a growth mindset? Something to think about as we begin to prepare for a new school year.
Have a great week,