In class, we have recently discussed Geneseo’s Learning Outcomes; “Leadership and Collaboration” specifically caught my attention. This Outcome urges student to work together and also encourages students “to experiment, take risks, and learn from mistakes.” At first glance, I didn’t see the importance of this line; in fact, I thought it was strange to include “mistakes” in a Learning Outcome. However, after thinking about it, I think this line is one of the most important parts of the GLOBE.
I have found that the best opportunities and achievements often require one to step outside of their comfort zone. I recently started to tutor for an elementary school class. When I first signed up for the program I signed up to tutor reading; however, when I got my teacher placement the program had signed me up for 6th grade math. At first, I was worried; I am terrible at math and have never learned the common core that elementary students are currently learning. I know that it is just 6th grade, but I really doubted my ability teach math to someone else. I almost told the program I couldn’t participate, but I told myself to give it a try, and I’m glad I did. I was honest with the teacher in the beginning and told her that I was nervous to tutor math. What she told me changed my thinking; she told me that most of the time the kids just need help staying on task and being encouraged to keep going with they get a question wrong or are confused. I was surprised to find that this was true; often the kids just needed someone to tell them that they are smart and capable and give them a little nudge when they are frustrated. They need this even more than they need help with actual math problems. On the first day when the teacher introduced me to the class she said something like, “remember the last half of the year when we asked for a tutor but couldn’t get one? Now we have one!” I realized that she was grateful to have me; whatever level my math tutoring ability was at it was better than no tutor at all. It’s crazy to me that I almost didn’t try tutoring because I was afraid of my own abilities, but I took a “risk” and it wound up for the better. After reflecting on other instance in my life where I took a risk, I have found that taking a risk and trying something new or facing on a challenge often provides more benefits than downfalls.
The second point of the line I provided from the “Leadership and Collaboration” Outcome is to “learn from mistakes.” As I said earlier, I was surprised at first that this line was included in a Learning Outcome because mistakes usually have a negative connotation; I thought they wouldn’t want us to make mistakes in the first place. However, after class discussions and thinking about it more, I have come to understand the importance of mistakes; we learn from the mistakes we make and find better alternatives as a result. I connected this to our rewrites of our essays. In most of my classes, I learn the material, study it, take the test and then forget the material. While I would like to take the time to look over my tests and understand every question that I got wrong, I need to devote that time to work that will help me for other tests/essays. However, in our class we currently have the opportunity to rewrite an essay. This gives us the opportunity to “learn from mistakes” in the old essay; we can see Dr. McCoy’s critiques and work with her and others to improve our own writing. I see this as the best way to grow and learn; if we didn’t have to do a rewrite we would probably not learn from Dr. McCoy’s critiques, and therefore not improve as writers. Learning from what we did wrong and what we can do differently improves our writing, not just for this one essay, but our writing abilities in general. Furthermore, the Learning Outcome shares that mistakes are actually encouraged because they allow us to learn and create new paths that work better. This encourages students to take on new opportunities and challenges, something that is necessary to prosper, not only as a student, but in all aspects of life.