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Creating a “culture of error” to accelerate progress

by Sarah Tierney

Teachers rely on student errors to help guide their instruction and tailor support to what students need most. But how do teachers and leaders get that same information about their own performance so they can be proactive when it comes to development?

Creating a culture of error not only for students, but for adults, too, is a critical first step to accelerate improvement. Doug Lemov says it best: A culture of error is “an environment where [teachers] feel safe making and discussing mistakes, so you can spend less time hunting for errors and more time fixing them.” 

Mistakes are powerful tools for learning.

When teachers and leaders are open about the challenges they’re up against, they can make the leap to thinking about how to improve much more quickly. Time and energy is no longer spent trying to uncover challenges and struggles, but on developing high-need, high-impact areas of teacher and leader practice. Mistakes become something to share rather than hide, because they're seen as an essential ingredient for improvement.

We’ve spent ten years learning from thousands of leaders and teachers across the country about the things that make a big difference for schools. Now, we want to give you the opportunity to do the same. We’ve organized these Lessons From the Field in a new section of our website by our main areas of focus—everything from harnessing the power of formative assessments to fostering a culture of adult learning.

Sarah is a director of new partnerships and former coach at ANet. She’s leading the Lessons From the Field project.

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