Opal School closed in 2021. You can continue to access these resources for free at teachingpreschoolpartners.org/resource-library/.

The Power of Oops

"I punch-ded Ruby today. It was an accident – ly. But it was an oopsie moment. I had an oopsie moment. Acause in my classroom we don't punch. We had to solve the problem. So I had to sit on the bench and my brain did something magical. I just thought 'there can be two mommies!' It just popped right in my brain. And everything just snapped together."

Stella, 4.1 years

This is the story I got to hear after school today, as Stella and I took a walk to the park. Caroline had told me a little bit of what had happened and so when I asked Stella about it, this all tumbled out. A proud storyteller, all puffed up with her accomplishment. Beaming.

I had to laugh a little as I tried to imagine or remember how my own old stories of punching my friends in preschool might have gone.  I don't, in fact, have any memories I can trace to preschool. But if the trouble I got into for slugging my little sister is any indication, I think it's safe to say that no one ever helped me to see my actions as "oopsies". Or helped me to understand that my brain had the capacity to "magic" another way.

What a gift to learn to see these mistakes as opportunities. To develop the confidence to know you can think of another way. To learn that you are responsible to do so.

Ellen Galinsky published this article in the Huffington Post today. It was written in response to this article published in the New York Times several days ago. As Galinsky points out, we've got the debate all wrong. We need a new framing of what could be, grounded in possibilities like those that our preschoolers make visible every day. And as adults, we could stand to trust that our brains might have "magical" capacities as well.