Everybody makes mistakes…

Last Friday our podcast team welcomed a special guest into our virtual studio, the Governor of Connecticut M. Jodi Rell. We were very excited about being able to interview the highest ranking government official in our state. The kids decided to invite her about a month ago and after a few emails back and forth a date and time was settled. This was set to be a “virtual” interview using skype to her land-line. I should add that the kids pick who they want to interview and do all the correspondence necessary to secure a date and time themselves. I do peek over their shoulder, but they are in control.

When the interview started I think everyone was a bit nervous. You have to imagine a small little table with a laptop being used to call and record, another laptop for the interviewers to receive questions from the listening audience, two big microphones, headsets on everyone, a big mixer to bring all the audio together, wires everywhere, and four kids and myself connected to all of those wires. It is a bit of a choatic scene. The interview started and immediatly we knew we had a sound problem. We could hear her clearly, but she was having trouble hearing us. Then someone botched the introduction, two kids started talking at once, one kid mispronounced a word in one of the questions, and the person receiving questions from the audience read the wrong one which was no longer connected to what she was talking about. Because of the sound issue, we had to tell the Governor of Connecticut that we would have to hang-up and call her back to see if we could get a better connection.

During those first five minutes my face turned red, I was making all sorts of faces at the kids, and pointing all sorts of fingers. After having problems trying to call her back, we finally got connected and it was clear from the Governors voice that she was much happier now that she could hear us clearly.

At the end of the interview I was ticked off over what had happended during the first five minutes and let the kids know it. I couldn’t let it go. Something along the lines of “We only have one chance to interview people and we can’t afford mistakes.”

After they left for their next class I thought about what I did and said…

You have to realize how incredibly hard it is to interview someone. Just because you have seen hundreds of interviews on TV, trust me…being on either end of a interview is so much harder than you would realize. Multiply the difficulty rating by 100 when you can’t see the person you are talking to. The amount of adreniline shooting through you as the call is being placed is awesome, staying clam and thinking clearly is real hard to do…especially if you are a kid and you have only done one other interview. You are think about what they said, what they are saying, and what you think they will say next so that you can ask the prepared questions and the spontaneous questions from the audience in a manner that allows the interview to flow seamlessly.

So after rewinding my emotions I reprocessed the interview…

The interview starts and it’s hard to hear and everyone knows the governor is upset about it from the tone of her voice (the podcast is edited, we took out much of the beginning!). A kid messes up the introduction, no one besides us would notice, he stays calm and flawlessly picks up and continues. Two kids talk at the same time and immediatly coomunicate with their bodies as to who should continue and they stay calm and composed and go with it. The Governor is obvioulsy getting a bit ticked at not being able to her us but the kids stay calm and show great patience in trying to help her understand the questions. We have to stop the call to try to get a better connection. When trying to call her back four times the call doesn’t go through. The teacher was using the wrong area code…grrrr. While the teacher is busy messing up because he is losing his cool the are calmly re-organizing for the rest of the interview.

There were five people at our table. Only four acted professionally…my four kids. They were under control the entire time, and I am the one who turned red and lost it.

What did I learn? When I was done reflecting I realized how ridiculuous my actions and thoughts were. Even they get it–mistakes will be made, you learn from them and move on.

I think we all need to remember that we might be teaching something for the 15th year in a row, but to the kids it’s the first time. We can see the problem we are going over with them from hundreds of angles. We tell them to present and we have hundreds of ideas from experience in our head. We have to remember that for them it’s the first time and simple mistakes will be made. They are suppose to be made. A basketball coach does not expect a team to run a play perfectly the first time. Teachers need to remember that perfection will not occur immediatly. I think if we are doing our job properly, mistakes, should probably outnumber successes. I wonder about student products that are produced that have no mistakes. Shouldn’t an entire unit and final product be full of mistakes? Wouldn’t that show kids pushing themselves beyond their limits? If you give kids a challenging unit and there are no mistakes in the final product, was it appropriately challenging? By expecting perfection do we minimize the challenge?…do we eliminate the risk?…do we extinguish true learning?

I should finish by saying that I gathered the interview team together at the end of the day and apoligized. Told them I was proud of the fact that they held it together, showed great poise, and had a terrific interview, and was sorry for my words and actions. They are a super bunch of kids and if you ever get the chance, follow our tweets and join them live for an interview one day. The never cease to amaze me.

Interview with the Governor is below, or you can go to our site.

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Everybody makes mistakes. Even Miley gets it 😉

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