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Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

12.11.15“He Worked it Out!”: Emilie Tarraf’s Culture of Error (Video)

We’re talking Check for Understanding at our Engaging Academics workshop in Albany this morning- specifically how great teachers normalize growth mindset–struggling forward, errors and all–and make that seem like the most normal thing in the world.  This is critically important because if students try to hide their mistakes from their teachers it is 10x harder to find them

One clip everybody seemed to love was this one of Emilie Tarraff’s kindergarten classroom at Leadership Prep Ocean Hill

EA.CFU.GRK.Relay.Tarraff.’He worked it out.’Clip2226-HD from Uncommon Schools on Vimeo.

Notice how she “Withholds the Answer” when a student gets the answer wrong. She asks his peers to evaluate his answer without herself revealing whether it’s a right or wrong answer they are talking about.  And in the end, after a bit of support from a peer and a No Opt Out, he’s praised for the process of figuring it out.  In fact though both students get positive reinforcement, the strongest positive reinforcement is not for getting it right so much as working it out after getting it wrong.  A beautiful and powerful message.

And though this is a kindergarten classroom, what Emilie does here can be applied in just about any classroom.

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