Hey – I’m not messing up – I’m learning!

Taken by Vicki Davis.

Vulcanized rubber, Post-it notes, and penicillin were all created by mistake. What if the inventors had thrown out that petri dish or crumpled up that piece of paper and thrown it away?

When you make a mistake learn from it.

I love the story from Andrew Carnegie in Dale Carnegie's book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Andrew had a head of one of his divisions who had just made a mistake that cost the company a lot of money. Andrew went to the man's office and the man was packing. Andrew said something like this:

“Why are you packing?”

Disheartened executive: I made a mistake that cost this company a lot of money, I should be fired.

Andrew: “I just spent $100K training you, why should I fire you!!”

Andrew Carnegie understood that mistakes are the training ground for greatness. What do you think of the loyalty and performance of that man for the rest of the time he worked for Andrew!

It is a mistake not to tolerate mistakes, Just don't tolerate NOT LEARNING from mistakes.
The running joke in my house is when one of us makes a mistake (the last one who dropped a gallon of milk on the floor by picking it up by the cap), Kip says:

“Now, what have we learned?”

This is one mistake we have nowadays – we don't tolerate mistakes in anyone else but feel like we should have all the excuses in the world. Often in hiring/ firing we're guilty of two things – we let those derelicts who should be fired hang on and sap the lifeblood and productivity out of our organization and we fire the trailblazer for the one mistake not realizing that person is a ‘go getter' and one who really gets things done.

Your Arena

By Stuck in Customs, Flickr

Theodore Roosevelt said this:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

You are a teacher. You are in the arena. Right here right now.

You are daring greatly many days and I mean that. Some of you right now have gang violence as a threat hanging over your head. Or you have those awful fights and worry for your own safety if it happens in your room. Tension is everywhere…

in your arena.

The Greatest Nobility of our Time is Teachers who behave Nobly
You are spending yourself in a worthy cause because you are an educator. The greatest nobility of our time. Nobility is not determined by the gold castle nor the piles of money in the antechamber, but in the fact that underneath your garments you wear the mantle of kings and queens and yet, you choose the path of an unappreciated profession.

You are noble and admirable but you must act like it!

Don't Give It Away
When you whine… when you curse… when you mope around like the world is coming to an end… you give away a piece of your nobility. You are noble… act like it.

Rise up and be a generation of teachers remembered not for their fancy tools and definitely not for their fancy cars but for their heart.

The teachers who say,

“I”m going to teach you if it is the last thing I do… and it might just be.”

Teachers who overcome excuses and make things happen for their students through the sweat of their brow! Teachers who give the kids all the credit and on this side of heaven no one will ever know what you've truly done.

Be noble. 

Photo of “History Teacher” by One Lucky Guy on Flickr

There are thousands and hundreds of thousands of you out there, my friends. I could care less what the news media says or the political brew-ha-ha of today. You can and will work in this environment. One day, people will look back and admire the teachers of this age for enduring our transition from industrial age to information age — IF and only IF you behave admirably amidst it.

Be admirable. Be noble.

And if I sound preachy it is because I am preachy doggone it. I may be down here in south Georgia but I'm sick and tired of everyone telling us what we can't do.

We CAN do Something
We CAN change and improve our classrooms one period at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time, one month at a time. We can't do everything but we can do something.

Remember your noble calling, teacher. Behave admirably in the arena!

Learn from mistakes and move ahead until society learns from the dire mistakes it is making that are negatively impacting education. Be tough. Be good but above all be NOBLE.


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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere
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