“The biggest mistake you will ever make is being afraid to make one.”
— Author Unknown
A new school year has begun and with it brings the opportunity to try new ideas and approaches, and to test our willingness to not be afraid to make mistakes! I am beginning my 11th year as the Dean of the College of Education, and, if there is one lesson I have learned, it is to not let fear hold me, or my amazing colleagues, back from being creative and innovative. We are intentional and do our best to explore questions, develop hypotheses, and then we try. The deepest learning is when things do not go according to plan. We readjust, and we try again.
My career in education began as a kindergarten teacher, and I continue to carry with me the valuable lessons I learned from children. Each year, an eager, delightful group of children with unbounded dreams and energy arrived in my classroom eager to try. Seldom did I encounter a child who was afraid of making a mistake. I do not recall having conversations with children where their apprehension was they would do something wrong. And, as a young teacher, I know I made many mistakes and had to adjust often times in mid-air, but I did not let that hold me back.
I have only one solid rule as a dean. No one can come to see me and tell me they are “sorry” for making a mistake in their work. My response is always to ask, “What did you learn, and what will you try as your next step?” And I am so proud to share that my amazing colleagues in the College of Education take me back to my early years as a kindergarten teacher.
Each August, they return filled with excitement, dreams, energy, vision, and an eagerness to explore and create incredible learning experiences for students. In spite of the relentless attacks on teacher education, they try with hope and determination. The following are just a few examples of the results of their work from not being afraid to make a mistake:
- Kelli Esteves created and led a summer study abroad experience in England and Scotland focused on children’s literature and authors such as Beatrix Potter, Roald Dahl, and J.K. Rowling. She will offer this course again in the summer 2016.
- Suneeta Kercood, a Fulbright Scholar, continues her work in Thailand and India to improve coordination and access, in a complicated health care system, for those with disabilities.
- Arthur Hochman designed and facilitated a summer professional development experience in New York City for the staff of the Kokomo’s Wallace School, an integrated arts school.
- Angela Lupton led a May study trip for a group of undergraduate students, university student teaching supervisors, and alumni to Budapest, Vienna, and Prague.
- Meredith McAllister traveled to Thailand to provide professional development for teachers in science education at the invitation of the Ministry of Education.
- Mindy Welch and Art Furman collaborated with peers from the Butler Athletics program and the Health and Recreation Center to create and launch The Hinkle Academy. This online program helps completers become front-row leader in wellness, sport, and allied fields.
These are just examples of the excitement about teaching, learning, and leading that is happening when talented people try and do not fear making a mistake. What will you do this year? We are anxious to hear what you try and are willing to share with others. Please share your stories with us!
Until next month,
Dr. Ena Shelley
Dean, College of Education