Develop a Culture of Risk-Taking and Embracing Mistakes
Meet the Maker
Amber Soto, Director of Mathematics Instruction, Implementation and Improvement
What is a time in your life that you felt like a complete failure? How did you get through it?
Honestly, I was extremely discouraged my first year of teaching! I had taken all of the classes through the UCLA Teacher’s Education Program (TEP). I went into my classroom at Locke High School in South Central Los Angeles with a mind-set that I was going to singlehandedly change the world! I wasn’t at all prepared for the reality of the situation. I think the juxtaposition of what I imagined I would be to what I really was absolutely made me feel like a failure! Despite the fact that I became known as a cryer, I found strength in my friends, my family and my co-workers. I had such an incredible village. I know they are what helped to get me through. Now I can look back and realize that that first year was actually a blessing in disguise. I learned so many tough lessons that absolutely made me a better teacher (and person) in the long run. To this day, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to learn so much from so many mistakes and failures!
If you were independently wealthy and didn’t have to work, what would you do with your time?
There are so many things I would do! I would definitely travel. There are so many places on my ‘bucket list’ that I haven’t seen yet! I would try to experience as many escape rooms as possible. I would probably do something with music. I love to sing, play piano and play guitar. I would also consider writing a book. Beyond that, I would love to put my time and energy into fighting for a good cause. I have a tendency to be a mama bear when it comes to vulnerable populations, so using my privilege and my voice to fight for their rights would be important to me.
What was your first job?
Believe it or not, outside of babysitting, my first paid job was working for NASA! I was in 11th grade and my chemistry teacher, Mr. Syer, was making decisions on how to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary. They finally decided they wanted to sell everything they owned and use that money to travel around the world. The internet was fairly new back then, but Mr. Syer had some friends at NASA who were interested in developing a website around his travels. They wanted to essentially create a map of the world in which you could click on any location and be able to see pictures and journal entries that he recorded when he visited. They decided to hire students over the summer to learn HTML (HyperText Markup Language) to help in the development of this website. We had to go through an application process, and I got the job. I was ecstatic, as it was truly an amazing opportunity!
This Week’s Focus:
Encouraging a Growth Mind-set by Embracing Mistakes
How do we create a classroom culture of risk-taking in which making mistakes is embraced and celebrated?
Here are a few videos creating a culture of risk-taking and growth mind-set!
For more resources that encourage growth mind-set and risk-taking, feel free to visit my website “Embracing the F-Word” (and in case that makes you nervous, “F” stands for failure!):