Is This Right?

I’m only six weeks into my student teaching and I’m slowly starting to get the feel of how a classroom works.  I am starting to better understand what to expect in different situations, although there always seems to be something that surprises me.

However, there is one constant I have found in every class.  No matter what we are working on, one question will always be asked a number of times:

“Is this right?”

It’s  a simple yes or no question, right?  Yet, I struggle with it.

I don’t want to tell them if they are right or wrong. I want them to know themselves.  I want my students to be able to look at what they’ve done and be able to do some sort of self assessment.  I want them to be be able to pick out their mistakes, and make the corrections.  I want them to be confident in what they’ve done and not need me to tell them whether or not it’s “right” or “good”.  I want them to see the value in making and then learning from mistakes.

I want them to do all these things.  Then I expect them to write an quiz or a test where I will be the judge whether they’re right or wrong. Maybe I should ask myself: “is this right?“.  No wonder they want me to tell them if they’re right or wrong…

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Comments 4
  1. Your response to the question could be, “Do you think it is right?” No matter whether they say yes or no, your next question is, “Show me why you think that?”

    Of course this is potentially a longer conversation, and depending on what is happening in class you may not be able to have the conversation that moment. Another option can be, “check in with the person next to you”, have them work on collaboration.

    Just some thoughts.

  2. My students do the same thing, and my first question to them is always, “what do YOU think?” During the first few weeks of school, this was rather exasperating for them, but I explained why I wanted them to think about it. Now, they’re catching on… and they’re 8, 9, 10, and 11 years old. I’m amazed by how their thinking has changed already in 5 short weeks!

    Continue helping them to stretch their thinking. We have been spending a lot of time reflecting on our thought processes and how we were able to arrive at specific answers or additional questions. They’re already becoming more curious and more independent!

  3. The previous posters are correct. I would add that even more important than knowing the correct answer or knowing why they have the answer they have chosen, is the habit of mind that comes from going through the thinking process and committing to the answer they have until they find a different or better one. I want to see thinking commitment. Commitment to the search for an answer and confidence that they are capable of reaching an answer. Even getting the incorrect answer should teach them something other than what the correct answer is.

  4. I must say, that as a teacher the most joy I get is from students reactions when I tell them I will not answer that question. Their jaws drop and they tell me I’m not doing my job properly. My jaw drops and I tell them I thought my job was to facilitate learning and not to be an answer key. It fascinating how much harder my students try since I began to refuse to answer that question. They are trying new things that I never would’ve as a student.

    On the other hand I’ve told them that I am always up for discussing the process that led them to that result. This is where they learn, from two way conversations, not from a yes or no answer.

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