Progress, Not Perfection: A "Prototype" Mindset for Teaching

May 06, 2019

As a teacher, I always felt tremendous pressure to do everything right the first time, and judging by the level of stress found at team meetings, I am pretty sure that many colleagues shared this mindset. Teachers tend to be perfectionists and, as such, can be their own worst enemies! Could you imagine if we had the same expectations for our students? Do it right the first time, or you’re a failure! Yikes! It wouldn’t be fair or realistic – and it’s not fair to do it to ourselves either.

In the TREP$ enrichment program, students learn that entrepreneurs designing products create prototypes. It’s a way to visualize a product in its first version. That’s right – first version. And then the next. And the next. And so on. Trying things out, seeing what works and what doesn’t, working out the problems, testing and retesting, are all expected steps in the innovation process.

The shift in thinking can be tricky when you are already in the trenches, but adopting a design approach to teaching will not only result in better lesson plans, but might just save your sanity. Delivering a lesson for the first time? Think of it as a prototype! It’s not your one chance to get it right, but your first chance to celebrate what worked AND discover what needs tweaking.

If you are a new TREP$ team member, it’s a great way to think about the work you are about to do. The TREP$ Startup Kit provides valuable tools and resources, already designed to provide a meaningful project-based learning experience to your students. But put aside the notion that you have to get it all right the first time! In fact, put aside the notion that there is one right way of doing it!  Progress, not perfection — developing a growth mindset — is what we preach to our students.  Let’s start holding ourselves to the same standards in our teaching.

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