Learning Is Correcting Your Mistakes

December 8, 2011 at 1:47 am Leave a comment

The title of this post encompasses my entire philosophy of learning and teaching.  When I was in the classroom I definitely made mistakes… BIG mistakes when it came to math instruction. Recently I’ve been coaching quite a number of teachers who don’t believe themselves to be math teachers.  This has been an interesting thought to ponder.  In my last post, I recommended a great read, and  while reading and talking with many elementary teachers I got to thinking about my core philosophy again.  I don’t have all the answers, but I certainly have made mistakes, and it’s only through these mistakes, reflecting on what went right, what went wrong, that I truly learned about myself as a math teacher.  I learned about myself as a learner and a teacher.  Knowing what I know now, I’d love the opportunity to go back in the classroom and redo some many of my math lessons. Would this be beneficial to students? Probably.  Would this be beneficial to teachers? Sure, atleast a few.  Would this be the greatest impact on education? No.  Back to my core philosophy, learning is correcting your mistakes.  By reflecting on my own practice, and coaching teachers through math education, I’m correcting the mistakes I made as a teacher, one who had math anxiety, and in turn, the teachers are learning, better yet, students are learning!

The connection to math here is this, without trial and error, crossing out our mistakes, not necessarily erasing them, but reworking a situation, we uncover a level of thinking that is so deep . This is my hope for students.  I wouldn’t erase the decade of teaching students for the world. As I move forward and coach teachers in their own mathematical thinking, even mathematical mistakes I hope this leads to the understanding that math isn’t always about the right answer. This is a huge paradigm shift in education right now. One that isn’t going away.  I challenge you to “rework” your teaching of mathematics, think about how your students view themselves as mathematicians, and help students uncover their mistakes to learn a new concept.

I’ll end with this quote that comes from a desk calendar given to me  years ago by one of my first graders:

Good teachers provide answers. Great teachers provoke questions.”

Be great!


Entry filed under: Reflections.

Recommended Read Talking in Math Class

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Kristen Hahn

December 2011
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