There are a few strategies I use in my classroom to promote
risk taking and foster a safe learning environment.
Firstly: Modeling. As teachers we are not immune to mistakes.
Whether it's as simple as a spelling mistake on the
whiteboard, or something bigger, it is very powerful for
teachers to model to students that mistakes are not failure.
I have a poster on my wall that reminds students that
mistakes help us to learn. We refer to it often. We have a
common saying in our classroom that we ay often: "Mistakes
are good because we can learn from our mistakes."
Which leads me to my next strategy. I have recently been
reading about 'Growth Mindset'. It's a small start but we now
have some poster on our classroom walls which display some
growth mindset thinking. These posters are referred to
whenever they are appropriate. I.e. when publishing work we
might focus on the poster that says: Instead of
thinking "It's good enough" I will think "Is this the best I
can do". Or another example is during a problem solving
activity we might focus on the poster that says: Instead of
thinking "I give up" I will think "What am I missing?".
I am also specifically introducing and reinforcing each
growth mindset poster. We choose one poster a week to
introduce and make it our class goal for the week. We then
refer to it, discuss it and role play it during the week, as
well as taking the opportunity to celebrate when we see
someone in the class demonstrating a growth mindset.
Another strategy that I find helpful and effective is related
to our school's Social and Emotional Curriculum called
the "You Can Do It" program. This program, taught explicitly
in Kindergarten to Year 6, explores 5 keys to success:
Getting Along, Organisation, Resilience, Persistence and
Confidence. Through this curriculum, as a school wide
endeavor, we are seeking to create an environment where
students develop these important characteristics. Students
who demonstrate resilience, persistence and confidence (which
includes attempting new tasks) are more likely to take risks
in their learning.
A strategy I have recently learnt through Professional
Development that I have found to be a highly successful way
of helping children to feel safe enough to make mistakes is
Strategic Questioning. Speculative framing, asking a students
name at the end, extending wait time, question relaying and
inverted questioning are just a few examples of Strategic
Questioning that I learnt at a workshop run by Glenn Pearsal.
I have found his practical suggestions have vastly improved
the effectiveness of my questioning, as well as an improved
responsiveness and willingness of students to participate in
discussions and give answers, without being afraid of being
I hope this has been helpful in your research.
On 5/24/16, Alice wrote:
> Hello teachers,
> I am doing a research project on risk taking linked with
creativity in the classroom.
> I'd love to hear from teachers their opinions and
strategies regarding fostering safe
> learning spaces and classroom cultures where ideas are
shared and students feel
> comfortable taking risks.
> How do you ensure mistakes are not stigmatised and a 'fear
of failure culture' does
> not develop?
> Looking forward to your response,
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