By Dr. Brian G. Ricca
This past week, one staff member copied me on an e-mail to another staff member, in which they admitted they had made a mistake. They blew it. Completely missed the mark.
I celebrate that e-mail.
We make mistakes. Every single day. In our personal lives. In our professional world. Mistakes are a part of life. Consider this graphic, courtesy of dr.lizcarter.com:
Success is perceived as a straight line. We know better. Success includes pauses, resets, full stops, and restarts. We all know the graphic on the right is so much more accurate. In the e-mail, this staff member owned their mistake, made amends, and offered to take steps to fix the problem. Isn’t that precisely what we ask of our students? Isn’t that precisely what we ask of our own children? Isn’t that precisely what we ask in any relationship we are a part of?
Mistakes are how we learn. It’s true. Some are harder to fix than others, but it is a fact that rarely, if ever, will we go through the learning process and not make a mistake. The East Greenwich Public Schools are home to the learning process, and so much learning happens outside of our six schools. Learning occurs on the weekend, at the dinner table, on family vacations, in the car, and in any of the myriad moments away from our schools.
I am grateful for the thorough process I underwent to earn this position in East Greenwich. In one of the sessions, I was asked about something I wish I could have done differently in my educational career. I shared the story of when I was a baby teacher on the Near West Side of Chicago and how I utterly overreacted to one of my kiddos not completing their homework. It was a complete overreaction. I am not proud of who I was that day.
When I finished retelling this story, my message to the School Committee was this: I didn’t make that same mistake again. I made mistakes. I make mistakes. I will make mistakes. That’s all a part of the learning process. I aim to not make the same mistake twice.
I am proud to serve in a community where people name their mistakes. It’s what excellent educators do. It’s how we all learn.
And it feels like home.