I’m not sure, but I think…

I don’t think of myself as a perfectionist.  I do have a genuine fear of being wrong though.  Even as I type this I worry about saying something poorly or incorrect and looking foolish.  I like to be sure before I speak.  I know I’m not alone and I try to remind myself that students have the same fear I do.  That makes math class an intimidating place to be for many of them.  It’s taken awhile, but I am more aware of this than ever.  It has changed the way I teach.

More than anything I want my classroom to be a place where students don’t have to be afraid to make a mistake.  Uncertainty is part of the process.  Revision is necessary.  Sharing an idea that they are not sure of is OK.  I’ll ask them “How confident are you in that idea?”  I invite them to put a percent to it (100%, 75%, 50%, etc…).  It opens the door for discussion and leaves room for them to change their mind and revise their thinking based on other people’s ideas.

I want them to know they don’t have to be right ALL the time.  It helps on tests and quizzes 🙂  But it’s not necessary in a classroom discussion.

Confusion is the sweat of learning. – Rhett Allain