Mistakes Are OK
Just as I have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying in any form, I also have a zero-tolerance policy for any type of humor based on mistakes, unless the person who has made the mistake laughs at himself or herself (which is a tricky distinction). I make it clear to the children that mistakes are an integral, necessary part of learning; that I make mistakes, as do all adults and children; and that those mistakes help us grow and learn. When the children get to the point where they realize mistakes are OK and accepted, they are much more willing to take chances. Putting oneself out on a limb to take an academic risk, whether in front of peers, in front of the teacher, or privately in one's own work, is where the true learning happens! I know I have achieved my goal of creating an accepting learning culture when I see risk taking.