10 Ways to Help Students Cope with Making Mistakes

Posted by Erica Warren on

One of the most valuable things we can teach children is how to cope with making mistakes. Making mistakes is a human quality that all students need be comfortable with. They need to know that if we didn’t make mistakes, there would be nothing to learn. 
Coping with making mistakes

Students Strive for Perfection

Most all students strive for the recognition of a perfect score on assignments and tests. Even a single mistake can create anxiety and disappointment. Unfortunately, perfect scores continue to be rewarded and mistakes frowned upon. So what can we all do to help?

Here are ten suggestions:

1) Be comfortable admitting when you make a mistake. Show students that it is okay to be wrong and that you can use it as an opportunity to learn.

2) Make sure to point out what a student has done right on an assignment as well as what was incorrect.

3) Always give your students the opportunity to fix mistakes so that they can learn from them and correct any misconceptions.

4) Communicate to your students that their mistakes can help you to be a better teacher because it helps you to uncover the areas that need more instruction.

5) If more than 50% of your students get a test item incorrect, throw out that item out. For those that got it, you can offer them extra credit. You can always then make sure to teach the concept in your next lesson and then include the item on the next test.

6) Thank your students for making errors and mistakes.

7) Instead of telling a student that they are wrong or incorrect, tell them that it was a nice try, or that they are close to the right answer and see if they can amend their response independently.

8) Recognize a student’s effort and guide them to the right answer so that they can be correct.

9) If a student provides the wrong answer, ask them why they gave you the response that they did so you can analyze their misconception.

10) Keep a positive attitude when students make mistakes.
Social Emotional Resources
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Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.

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