Helping Students Ask Good Questions

By Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., author of Self-Regulation in the Classroom: Helping Students Learn How to Learn
Part of our Cash in on Learning series by Richard M. Cash, Ed.D. Click to read other Cash in on Learning posts.

Helping Students Ask Good QuestionsIn my work as a coach and consultant, I have observed many hundreds of teachers all over the world. During a typical observation, the teacher will ask almost 100 percent of the questions. In fact, Walsh and Sattes (2017) state that the typical teacher will ask between 200 and 300 questions per day, or about 1.3 to 2 million questions over a career. That’s a lot of questions!

Researchers have found that in most cases the majority of questions teachers ask are lower-level factual (who, what, where, when) and procedural (how) questions and few, if any, are higher-level (why) questions. When asking display-of-knowledge-type questions (factual and procedural), the questioner (teacher) has a set answer in mind, leading the person answering to try to please the questioner.

We need to change the dynamics in the classroom to move from teacher-led questioning to student-driven inquiry. Inquiry is the act of asking questions to gain more knowledge. Wonder, interest, puzzlement, and curiosity interact to help us understand the world around us. Inquiry is performed in all fields, in all walks of life, and at all ages. It is pervasive throughout our lives. Inquiry is what moves our society, culture, and democracy toward a better existence.

The first step in getting students to ask good questions is for the teacher to model good questioning techniques. Students need to hear you frame good questions (from lower-level to higher-level). Most importantly, students need to see questions written out and denoted as lower-level or higher-level.


  • What are the steps in photosynthesis? (lower-level question)
  • In what ways does photosynthesis impact our daily lives? (higher-level question)

Also look at the chart below to ensure you are moving from lower-level convergent questions to higher-level divergent questions. Here are some guidelines:

  • Lower-level questions seek basic information or are at the surface level of content.
  • Higher-level questions seek reasoning, evaluation, analysis, and creativity.
  • Convergent questions ask for verifiable information that may be found in many ways.
  • Divergent questions require coming up with differing lines of thinking, imagination, and creative solutions.

Helping Students Ask Good QuestionsFor the second step, make sure your students are using lower-level questions to help them reach higher-level questions. Monitor their use of questions, encouraging them to write out their questions and share them with classmates. Help students make adjustments to their questioning strategy as you check for understanding.

The third step is to require students to use questioning throughout the day. This step will require you to back away from asking the questions so that students are doing the questioning. Set up your classroom in a way that encourages collaboration and small-group conversation. To facilitate the questioning process, have students craft questions for homework as an “entrance ticket” for the next class session. Sitting in small groups, have the students ask one another questions to either refresh their memory of past lessons, prepare them for the next lesson, or review for a test.

Finally, have students reflect on their use of questioning. Have them look at different questioning strategies to find the ones that work best for what they are learning. In the early stages of learning a new topic, it is more difficult to ask higher-level questions (since you have limited background knowledge). As students become more proficient with a topic, they can begin to ask more sophisticated questions.

Don’t fear losing control of the management or content by letting students ask more questions. You may find their questions will take you down pathways of interest and new ideas, as well as increase student engagement and motivation to learn. When you release teacher control, you increase learner responsibility!

Helping Students Ask Good QuestionsBonus! For a free resource to help with better questioning in the classroom, check out the worksheet “Clarifying Information” from Self-Regulation in the Classroom: Helping Students Learn How to Learn.

Resources on Types of Questioning Strategies
Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy (2001)
Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) (1997)
The Ultimate Critical-Thinking Skills Cheat Sheet by Wabisabi Learning

Walsh, J.A. & B.D. Sattes. Quality Questioning: Research-Based Practice to Engage Every Learner. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2017.

Richard CashRichard M. Cash, Ed.D., writes the monthly Cash in on Learning blog posts for Free Spirit Publishing. He has given hundreds of workshops, presentations, and staff development sessions throughout the United States and internationally.

Free Spirit books by Richard Cash:

Self-regulation Advancing Differentiation Revised and Updated Edition Differentiation for Gifted Learners

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How to Build an EC Classroom Culture Where Children Listen

By Cheri J. Meiners, M.Ed., author of the Learning About Me & You, Learning to Get Along®, and Being the Best Me!™ series

How to Build an EC Classroom Culture Where Children ListenIsn’t it amazing that two-year-olds born anywhere in the world have acquired the listening skills needed to understand and speak their native languages—complete with intonation and inflection? Listening is a vital precursor to academic and social learning. As children grow, they learn to understand and interpret many different types of sounds. We can help them learn from the sounds around them, such as in nature, music, and technology. However, learning to focus on the human voice promises the greatest rewards. As children listen to us, we can teach and bond with them and keep them safe. And as they listen to peers, they learn to get along.

What does a positive listening climate look like?
The ideal teaching setting is one of positive reinforcement, where we are constantly looking for appropriate behavior that we can reward. When children demonstrate active listening, we can give sincere, intermittent praise that focuses on what we specifically like. Our positive feedback increases the likelihood of those behaviors continuing and growing stronger.

As much as 97 percent of the time, children are ignored when they are behaving appropriately! We typically give attention to inappropriate behavior six to seven times more often than appropriate behavior. This inadvertently rewards children when they are not listening to us. Because children seek our attention, they will increasingly do things that we reinforce. As we shift our focus to noticing positive behavior, we can help shape a child’s listening behavior. This creates a climate that is conducive to listening, because any behavior that is reinforced will increase. And behavior is more likely to improve with positive rather than adverse interactions.

How can we create a classroom climate where children feel motivated to listen and learn?

  1. Teach. First, we need to teach children what good listening looks like, using activities such as the Open Your Mind to Listening activity below.
  2. State expectations simply and directly. Be brief. Try to keep your directives to no more than 12 words or no longer than five seconds. This is as long as we can expect to keep a child’s attention. Some examples are, “Time to listen,” “Put on your listening ears,” “Look at me, please,” and “As I read the story, please listen quietly.”
  3. Be cheerful. Children will be more ready to listen when you are happy, kind, and empathetic to their needs. Even when we need to redirect behavior, we can be pleasant. Once children are on task again, remember to give a cheerful compliment.
  4. Praise children who are listening well. Rather than calling out children who aren’t paying attention, praise those who are. Other children will often notice and start listening. You might stop speaking periodically to briefly compliment children for listening. You might say, “I like the way you are looking at me,” or “Thanks for being quiet while I talk.” To encourage any behavior, it’s most effective when we give positive feedback eight times more often than negative feedback. It makes such a difference when we notice and remark on the positive things going on in the room. More than anything else, this will set a climate where children feel comfortable. They’ll enjoy listening and sharing their own thoughts.
  5. Keep listening intervals short. Young children have very short attention spans. Talk as simply and briefly as possible, using simple vocabulary and short sentences. Take breaks between instruction, rewarding children for listening. Allow children to move and stretch occasionally. Some fidgeting and sitting in different postures is age-appropriate for young children.
  6. Use novel ways to get children’s attention when starting a new activity. For example, in a normal voice say, “If you can hear me, put your finger on your nose,” or “Show me you are listening by folding your hands.” Try to change it up to make it fun.
  7. Get on children’s eye level. Make sure children look at you and can hear you before giving instructions.
  8. Ignore inconsequential behavior. Due to their lack of experience and maturity, young children will exhibit lots of inattentive behavior that’s typical for their age. It may take time to understand expected group behavior for circle time or lining up. Be patient and calm. Overlook some behaviors that aren’t totally appropriate while looking for positive things to acknowledge. Bring focus to those who are setting an example of listening and following instructions.
  9. Redirect inappropriate behavior. If a child is clearly acting out or not listening, restate your expectation in a calm way. Redirect the behavior to something appropriate. Then cheerfully acknowledge the new improved behavior.

Below is a listening activity that can help children learn specific readiness skills and see the importance of listening and having an open mind.

Activity: Open Your Mind to Listening*
Have you ever seen young children cover their ears when they don’t want to hear something? This visual demonstration contrasts closing our ears and minds with active listening.

Setup: Use a marker to draw eyes and a mouth on a quart-size glass jar. Write each of the following phrases on the side of a wood clothespin:

  • Stay quiet while someone talks.
  • Look at the person talking.
  • Think about what you hear.

For older children, you might add three more pins with the following phrases:

  • Say back what you heard.
  • Ask questions to make sure you understand.
  • Think about how the person feels.

Discussion: Show children the jar and talk about how when the lid is on the jar, no new words or ideas can come in. Explain that this is like a person who isn’t listening. Take off the lid and explain that when we take the lid off the jar, it’s like we’re opening our ears and minds to listening and hearing someone talk to us.

Demonstrate and discuss the meaning of the three (or six) listening skills written on the clothespins.

Activity: Put the lid back on the jar and ask, “Can you hear ideas when you aren’t listening?” Set the jar on the ground. Let children drop a clothespin to see if it will fall in the jar. Of course, the pins will hit the lid and will not go in. Then, take off the lid (reminding children to open up their ears and their minds) and let a child try again. When the child drops the clothespin in, read the skill written on the pin. This is the skill that the listening “jar person” is practicing.

Help the child repeat the skill to you (which requires listening). You might also prompt the child to say something like, “I show good listening when . . . I stay quiet while someone talks,” or “I can listen well when . . . I look at the person talking.”

Listening prompt: You can use the listening jar as a listening prompt after the activity is over. When you would like children to listen, ceremoniously hold up the jar and take the lid off of it. Teach children a readiness signal, such as folding their arms or putting their hands to their ears, to show that they are ready to listen.

As you set an example of listening and showing interest in children, explicitly teaching listening skills, and positively acknowledging their efforts, the learning environment of your classroom is bound to become more positive and motivating for both you and the children in your care.

For more ideas on teaching listening and communication skills, see also:
I Listen (for children ages 2–5)
Listen and Learn (for children ages 4–8)
Talk and Work It Out (for children ages 4–8)

*The Open Your Mind to Listening activity was adapted from Talk and Work It Out.

Cheri MeinersCheri J. Meiners, M.Ed., has her master’s degree in elementary education and gifted education. A former first-grade teacher, she has taught education classes at Utah State University and has supervised student teachers. Cheri and her husband David have six children and enjoy the company of their lively grandchildren. They live in Laurel, Maryland.

Free Spirit book series by Cheri Meiners:


Being The Best Me

Learning About Me and You

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

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Effective Communication Strategies for Co-Teachers in RTI Schools

By Elizabeth Whitten, Ph.D., Kelli J. Esteves, Ed.D., and Alice Woodrow, coauthors of RTI Success: Proven Tools and Strategies for Schools and Classrooms (Revised & Updated Edition)

Effective Communication Strategies for Co-Teachers in RTI SchoolsResponse to Intervention (RTI) as a multi-tiered system of support takes a collaborative approach by a team of educators to be successful. Teachers have opened their classroom doors to better meet the needs of their students by providing differentiated support through collaborative teaching, also known as co-teaching. Effective co-teaching is a key ingredient to the success of students of all ability levels in the general education classroom. Co-teachers will need to communicate with one another on a continual basis in order to help students reach their learning goals. Clear and ongoing communication can promote a positive culture of collaboration, making teachers feel connected as a team.

Here are some practical tips to help you communicate effectively with your co-teacher.

Remember, the Students Are Watching
Look for ways to authentically encourage your co-teaching partner in front of students. Supporting one another’s decisions shows students that you are united partners and demonstrates the uplifting effect of validating someone’s ideas. Even the subtleties of your word choice can make a difference. Use we and our instead of I and my whenever possible.

You will inevitably have misunderstandings and disagreements with your co-teacher. Some issues can be resolved while students are present so that students can observe how to resolve a problem in a positive and collegial way. When issues are complex, you will need to find a time to have a conversation when students are not around. You will always have certain students who are keenly aware of tension in relationships even when you think you are camouflaging it. Do all you can to maintain a harmonious relationship with your co-teaching partner.

Effective Communication Strategies for Co-Teachers in RTI SchoolsRoutinely Plan and Reflect Together
A true gift of co-teaching is the opportunity to plan and reflect together on a regular basis. Brief daily check-ins are beneficial, as are longer, more comprehensive meetings. Finding time for daily check-ins is typically a challenge, but developing a user-friendly communication system for planning and reflecting can help. This could include an electronic or a handwritten journal for when you don’t have time for face-to-face conversations. The journal could be a place to document questions, observations, or ideas. It can also be a valuable resource to guide conversations during your comprehensive meetings. If journaling doesn’t fit for you, find a method that does. It could be texting, email, or leaving notes for each other. The important thing is that you come up with a method that works for both of you.

Long-term planning meetings, combined with conversations about what is going well and what is not going as well, are so valuable that they should not be left to chance. Schedule biweekly meetings, perhaps over a cup of coffee or tea, and protect the time. When co-teachers take a step back and mindfully consider the efficacy of their teaching, they can plan concrete steps for improvement. It also serves as a reminder of what unites the team: helping students meet their learning goals.

Create a Shared Language
In order to maximize the time you have together as co-teaching partners, it is helpful to have a shared language for discussing the use of the models of co-teaching and the roles and responsibilities within each model. When you come together to talk about content and in-class assignments, you can save time and be more effective if you match the right co-teaching model with the objective of the lesson. When each co-teacher has assigned roles and responsibilities for each model, the communication will be more efficient and effective.

Nonverbal signals can also be a valuable form of communication between co-teaching partners. If signals are established beforehand, they allow seamless transitions to occur mid-lesson without a disruption to instruction or loss of instructional time. For example, imagine that during the instruction of new content by the lead teacher (complementary model), it becomes evident that some students need to slow down and scaffold the information while others are catching on quickly. A nonverbal signal to move into a small-group model (parallel model) where students are broken up between the two teachers will ensure you meet the needs of all students in the class in real time.

To Sum Up
Effective team collaboration and communication is a vital ingredient in the overall success of a co-teaching team. Planned collaboration gives co-teachers equal opportunities to share ideas, better understand and respect each other, and make informed and focused decisions for success in the classroom. Ongoing communication unifies team members and better prepares them for the obstacles and challenges they face daily in the classroom. Don’t leave your “talk time” to chance.

Elizabeth WhittenElizabeth Whitten, Ph.D., is a professor of special education and literary studies at Western Michigan University. Prior to her 18 years in higher education, Elizabeth was a teacher and administrator.



Kelli EstevesKelli J. Esteves, Ed.D., is an associate professor of education at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. Kelli has experience as a special education teacher and reading specialist in the Rockford (MI) Public Schools.



Alice WoodrowAlice Woodrow, Ed.D., is director of special education at Allegan Area Educational Service Agency in Allegan, Michigan. Alice has also served as the supervisor of special education in the Comstock (MI) Public Schools.



RTI SuccessElizabeth, Kelli, and Alice are coauthors of RTI Success: Proven Tools and Strategies for Schools and Classrooms

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2019 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The view expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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Can Creativity Be Taught?

By Susan Daniels, Ph.D., author of Visual Learning and Teaching: An Essential Guide for Educators K–8

Can Creativity Be Taught?I am eager to answer this question. But first, we would benefit from considering this question: What is creativity?

There is a multitude of ways to describe and define creativity. I find the following definition most useful in terms of applying views of creativity to students and education: Creativity is original self-expression. It is a natural ability that—barring injury, illness, or developmental delay—is evident in the thinking, imagination, and play of young children.

Research has consistently shown that creativity declines at about the fourth grade. And it has been suggested that this is in part because pedagogically we go from using early childhood methodology (play, exploration, etc.) to text-based and test-based teaching and learning. The “one right answer” phenomenon of high-stakes testing is not conducive to fostering creative thinking.

While creative personality traits can be supported, they cannot be “taught” per se. On the other hand, creative-thinking processes can be taught. And they are numerous. Here are a few:

  • brainstorming
  • changing contexts (simulations)
  • creative problem-solving—problem finding, problem selection, idea finding, solution selection, and persuasion
  • questioning
  • doodling, drawing, and writing
  • dramatizing
  • elaborating
  • humor
  • imagination
  • flexible thinking
  • pattern finding
  • pattern making

So, where to begin with teaching creative-thinking processes? If I were to choose two processes to start with, I would choose imagination and flexible thinking. These two processes open up thinking and learning in the classroom to what I call “possibility thinking.” When we support imagination and flexible thinking, we are opening up multiple possibilities for thinking and doing. We are not checking the right box but instead looking outside the box. Or, perhaps, we might be asking: “What might this box be good for? What can we make with this box?” Rather than looking for that one right answer (convergence), imagination and flexible thinking promote looking for many possible answers (divergence). Divergent thinking is an essential part of the creative process. And divergence draws on imagination and flexible thinking.

On that note, here are questions you can pose to your students to open up creative exploration. These questions should be adaptable across subject areas and grade levels and open up thinking and discussion to multiple possibilities.

Imagination Questions
Imagination involves speculating about things that are unknown or thinking about what might be possible. For example, we might ask, “What would happen if . . .”

  • “. . . people could fly?”
  • “. . . dogs fit in the palm of your hand?”
  • “. . . people hibernated like bears?”
  • “. . . people could only perceive black, white, and shades of gray?”

Flexible-Thinking Questions
Flexible thinking results in ideas. The purpose of flexible thinking is to think of different and unusual ways to look at things or to approach questions or problems. Children become flexible thinkers when we ask questions such as, “Can you think of a different way to . . .”

  • “. . . use pencils other than for writing?”
  • “. . . describe your mood as if it were a weather forecast?”

Or you might ask questions like, “What are all the possible ways we might rebuild our outdoor space? In what ways would these changes benefit students? In what ways would they benefit the community? How might we use found or recycled materials in an unusual and safe way?”

These questions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to teaching creative-thinking skills. You can think of many of your own questions that will get your students’ creative gears spinning. Just keep an open mind and help your students do so as well. Creative-thinking skills are necessary in our world today. Imagination and flexible thinking are not just nice enrichment strategies; they are also important skills to develop for students who are growing up in our rapidly changing world.

Susan DanielsDr. Susan Daniels is a professor, an author, a consultant, and an educational director of a psychoeducational center that specializes in the needs of gifted, creative, and twice-exceptional children. She has been a professional development specialist for over 20 years, regularly providing workshops and training on creativity and visual learning and teaching. Susan is an avid doodler who enjoys working visually in her journals, and she is dedicated to supporting teachers’ development of visual literacy and enhanced understanding of visual learning and teaching strategies. She lives in Berkeley, California.

Visual Learning and TeachingSusan is the author of Visual Learning and Teaching: An Essential Guide for Educators K–8.

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Mistakes, Bad Breaks, and Other Headaches: Helping Kids Bounce Back

By Kimberly Feltes Taylor and Eric Braun, coauthors of How to Take the ACHE Out of Mistakes

Mistakes, Bad Breaks, and Other Headaches: Helping Kids Bounce BackPerhaps you have heard the famous story about Alexander Fleming, that sloppy scientist who left some of his petri dishes unwashed and ended up discovering penicillin when he noticed that one patch of mold was preventing the growth of bacteria. As Bob Ross might say, just a happy accident. Or maybe you’ve heard of Patsy Sherman, the 3M chemist who, after her assistant fumbled some chemicals onto her shoes, realized her sneakers repelled stains. That spill led her to invent Scotchgard, a fabric protectant that takes the sting—make that the stain—out of future mistakes.

History is full of mistakes that turned out great. Why? Because history is full of mistakes. We all make them. All the time. And we all know we all make them. Heck, most of us understand that mistakes are how we learn—and yet . . .

And yet . . . sometimes making a mistake just feels so darn bad. We mess up or misstep, we wipe out or whiff, or we take a chance that leads to disaster (or a minor setback), and we can’t face it. We’re embarrassed. Or ashamed. Or defeated. Even for the most mature grown-ups, it can be hard to move on from mistakes in a healthy way. For kids and teens, it’s often a lot harder because they don’t have the life experience that adults do. They haven’t seen enough of their failures turn to positives. They may lack the perspective to see it. The social stakes can feel so high that even the tiniest mistake can seem crushing.

That’s why it’s so important to talk about this topic. Here are a few stories to share with students about big-time blunders and the cool things that came of them. They all show people owning their mistakes, trying their best to fix them, and learning from them—the three keys to taking the ACHE out of mistakes and moving on in a healthy way. Choose a few to talk about with your group, and ask for volunteers to contribute their own stories.

A Rice Cooker That Burned Rice
After World War II, Japanese physicist Akio Morita returned to Tokyo to join a new company called Tokyo Telecommunications Research Institute. Working in an old department store burned out from the war, he invented the company’s first product: a rice cooker. Unfortunately, the rice cooker was lousy at cooking rice. What it did was burn the rice. The company sold only 100 units. It was a colossal failure. Luckily, Morita and his partner had tenacity. They moved on, subsequently inventing magnetic recording tape, and in 1950 they sold the first tape recorder. By this time, they had changed the name of their company to Sony, from sonus, the Latin word for “sound,” and the phrase “sonny boy,” a common American expression at the time.

Sony, of course, went on to produce a few other big products, including the Walkman and the PlayStation, while establishing itself as one of the most important corporations in the world.

If at First You Don’t Succeed . . .
In the early 1940s, a 17-year-old boy got up onstage at a theater in New York to audition for a play. The director asked him if he was ready. The kid said yes. He then proceeded to read from the script as if each word were its own sentence: “When. Are. You. Going. To. Be. At. . . .”

The director ran up onstage and marched the kid to the door, saying, “Get out of here and stop wasting people’s time!”

The kid had clearly bombed. And on top of that, the director chose to humiliate him. Nobody would have blamed the kid if he never tried out for a play again. But instead of giving up, he thought about what he needed to do differently to succeed—he had to learn to read better. So he spent the next six months working on improving his reading skills. Then he went back to the same theater to audition again. Guess what happened this time?

Yep. He landed a position with the company and soon became a lead actor in their productions.

Who was this young thespian who wouldn’t give up? None other than one of the greatest actors ever to grace the stage and screen: Sidney Poitier.

Not long after establishing himself as a powerhouse of the theater, Poitier broke through on the big screen, eventually starring in over 40 films, including the classics A Raisin in the Sun, In the Heat of the Night, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

That kid who messed up at his first audition went on to win an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA (the British Oscars). He has been honored by the NAACP, the Kennedy Center Honors, and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. In 1974, Poitier was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, and in 2009, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Mistakes, Bad Breaks, and Other Headaches: Helping Kids Bounce BackThey Were Supposed to Melt
Every day, all around the United States, people enjoy a yummy treat that started out as a mistake. What is the treat? Here are some hints: It’s a cookie. It has chips of chocolate in it. Can you guess? That’s right! It’s the chocolate chip cookie!

Who gets to claim ownership of this delicious mistake? That would be Ruth Wakefield. She and her husband owned the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts. One day, in 1930, Wakefield decided to make a batch of chocolate cookies for her guests. However, she was out of baker’s chocolate. But she did have a bar of Nestlé’s semisweet chocolate. So, using an ice pick, she broke up the chocolate bar into small pieces and mixed the pieces into her cookie dough. She assumed that the chocolate pieces would melt throughout each cookie in the oven.

But when Wakefield took the cookies out of the oven, she discovered that the chips had not melted. She served the cookies anyway—and her guests loved them!

Today, there are many different recipes for chocolate chip cookies, but you can find the original recipe for Wakefield’s mistake—the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie—on the back of the packaging for Nestlé’s chocolate chips.

From Fired Cartoonist to Movie Mogul
What words and phrases come to mind when you think of Walt Disney? Creative genius. Innovator. Visionary. Brilliant. Gifted. Lacking imagination . . . wait, what?

Today, probably no one would describe Walt Disney as “lacking imagination.” But that’s exactly how one of his first bosses described him—when firing him!

The year was 1919. Disney was still a teenager at the time. He was working as a cartoonist for a newspaper in Missouri. The boss who fired him was his editor.

Did Disney’s ideas really lack imagination? Or was the editor simply unable to see the creativity of Disney’s pitches? It’s difficult to know today. But either way, Disney did not allow the negative feedback to derail his dreams. He moved to Hollywood, and at the age of just 22, he started Walt Disney Studios (originally named Disney Brothers Studios) with his brother Roy. The studio became an innovator in the world of animation and has produced some of the most imaginative animated films ever made, including Fantasia.

Oh, and many years later, the Disney Company bought the American Broadcasting Company, which owned the newspaper Disney had been fired from as a teen.

Umpire Blows Historic Call
Not all historic mistakes end in amazing medical breakthroughs or massive movie studios. Sometimes they simply give us a chance to witness empathy on a grand scale. On June 2, 2010, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was one out away from pitching a perfect game—not allowing a baserunner in a complete nine-inning game. This incredible feat had only been accomplished 20 times in the history of Major League Baseball (MLB). It would have put Galarraga’s name in the record books alongside the greatest pitchers of all time.

Galarraga got out 26 batters in a row and had one last out to go when Cleveland batter Jason Donald hit a soft grounder toward first base. The Tigers first baseman ranged over to scoop it up and tossed it to Galarraga, who had come over to cover the base. The throw was in time, and it looked like the Tigers got Donald out. In fact, Galarraga started celebrating his incredible achievement.

But then he stopped. As he looked toward umpire Jim Joyce, he realized Joyce had called Donald safe. So Galarraga got back up on the mound and got back to work. His bid for a perfect game was lost.

At the time, umpires were not allowed to change their call using replays to review the play. If they had, Joyce would have almost surely corrected the call, because replays clearly showed that Donald was out. However, Joyce didn’t get to see the video until after the game. When he did, he realized that he had blown the call. He was devastated. He tearfully said, “I took a perfect game away from that kid over there.” He apologized to Galarraga. What happened next was simple and human and extraordinary. Pro athletes are extremely competitive. Pitching a perfect game would mean a lot to any MLB pitcher, and it surely meant a lot to Galarraga. But Galarraga didn’t hesitate to forgive Joyce.

“He probably feels more bad than me,” he said. “Nobody’s perfect. Everybody’s human. I understand.” The two men even shared a hug before the next day’s game.

Kimberly Feltes TaylorKimberly Feltes Taylor has written over 15 books for young people, including the popular Yolanda series of advice books, which provide tips for dealing with peer pressure, family issues, friendship problems, money management, and workplace dilemmas. Kim has also written dozens of classroom magazine articles. She lives in the Twin Cities of Minnesota


Author Eric BraunEric Braun writes and edits books for readers of all ages, specializing in academic and social and emotional topics. Books he has worked on have won awards and honors including the Eugene M. Emme Astronautical Literature Award, a Foreword Book of the Year Gold Award, a Benjamin Franklin Award, and many others. A McKnight Artist Fellow and an Aspen Summer Words scholar for his fiction, he earned an MFA in creative writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two sons.

How to Take the ACHE Out of MistakesKimberly and Eric are coauthors of How to Take the ACHE Out of Mistakes

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2019 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The view expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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