My husband often says to me, "What do you mean you don't know? You have 4 college degrees, you should know." This is usually in response to me not knowing something about my car or some random history question he has asked. Just because you have gone to school doesn't mean you know everything. My husband says this because he knows it gets under my skin. He thinks it's funny!
It's OK not to know. As educators, we need to stop pretending that we know everything and admit to our students that we don't. Our students need to see us as human. Humans make mistakes, they learn, and they struggle. Our students need to see this example. They need to hear that it is OK not to know it all. Sometimes even when we do know - we need to pretend we don't!
Admit when you don't know, admit when you are wrong, admit that you are human. Talk to your students about how you cope. What do you do when you aren't sure about something? What do you do when you make a mistake? Show your students so that they can follow your example. And so that they can understand that learning from those mistakes is the best part of learning.
My sixth grade students knew that Google.com was my 'friend'! Whenever I didn't know something I would pull up Google and ask the Internet to help me. Lucky for my students, they live in an era where knowledge is at their fingertips. They can find answers for almost all of their questions. As their teacher, I needed to make sure they understood the vastness of the Internet and the knowledge they had access to. We talked a lot about appropriate websites, how to find credible sources, and how to evaluate the sources we found.
Admit that your way is not the only way. Sometimes our students have a different way of doing something that gets them the same result. As educators we need to encourage their creativity and out of the box thinking. Yes, we need to teach them strategies, however, we also need to allow for them to choose the strategy that works best for them. This can be difficult, especially in math, when we are teaching a certain strategy and we want our students to practice that strategy. But, what if the strategy doesn't make sense to them and there is another way that does and gets them to the same conclusion. The important part is the outcome, isn't it?
By the way, it's OK to admit you don't know everything to other teachers, too! We need to stop judging each other, and support each other instead. The days of closed door teaching are over. Collaboration is the key to success. The old adage, "Two heads are better than one", has never been more true.