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