It stuck.

Reflections in the Why

“Find the right in the wrong.”

As a student teacher, my mentor teacher gave me this advice. It stuck. For 15 years, it’s been a helpful mantra. A reminder to:

  • focus on what students are able to do when solving multi-step equations,
  • recognize some mistakes as being overgeneralizations (e.g., a negative plus a negative is a positive), and
  • think of contexts in which math mistakes make sense (e.g., 1/3 plus 2/5 does not equal 3/8, except with at-bats in baseball, or powerplays in hockey, or marks in math class, or …)

You assign grades. Your gradebook offers suggestions.”

Advice given to me as a first year teacher. It stuck. Not helpful day-to-day but invaluable on certain days (i.e., when marks are due). Over the years, remembering this gave me permission to consider other evidence of what a student knew (e.g., classroom observations and conversations with the kid) and…

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