Friday Gem #33 – What’s My (nuanced) Mistake? Promoting self-awareness and resilience through metacognition

Spring Focus: Metacognition

Teaching and learning Gem #33 – What’s My (nuanced) Mistake? Promoting self-awareness and resilience through metacognition

This idea comes Priscilla, who shared it at our TeachMeet this half term and has written up the process below:


‘What’s my mistake?’ is a light-hearted but highly effective strategy which encourages a mindset promoting self-awareness and resilience through metacognition. By using this strategy, pupils can become more independent learners allowing them to self-regulate when faced with mistakes. It replaces their negative inner voice helping them to accept that making mistakes is part of the learning process and to find ways to manage challenges.


The idea can be used in a variety of contexts such as:

  • after an assessment to consolidate learning or
  • as a method to revise key terms and concepts at the end of a unit of work or
  • as a tool to critically think about misconceptions.

At WHS, I have used this strategy with Key Stage 5 pupils as part of an end of unit assessment.

How does it work? 

Following feedback on a key terms and diagrams test, pupils are set a homework task to prepare 5 questions and their respective answers, but with the proviso that each answer must include at least one mistakeThe more nuanced the mistake, the better. These mistakes can be a combination of ones made by the pupil in the test and on potential misconceptions highlighted in lessons.

During the lesson, pupils work in pairs to find mistakes in each other’s work as ‘mistake detectives’. They then choose some questions with the ‘best’ mistakes to share with the whole class on the collaboration space in OneNote for all pupils to solve.

Why is it useful? 

  • It gives pupils confidence in, first of all, accepting that making mistakes is part of the learning process. Personal reflection enables pupils to critically analyse their performance in relation to the task and to consider that when they make a mistake, they can learn from it and, most importantly, fix it.
  • By explaining their thinking and mistakes out loud helps pupils to focus and monitor their cognitive processing and to develop a deeper understanding of their own thinking processes.
  • Through sharing and discussing their mistakes it promotes metacognitive regulation that is what can pupils do to further their own learning. They may decide to try a different strategy if a particular one is not achieving the results they want.
  • It encourages pupils to actively monitor their own learning and make changes to their own learning behaviours and strategies which enables them to develop from tacit learners to become aware, strategic and reflective learners.