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Principal’s Corner: What is great about us making mistakes?

By Johanna Thomas

Johanna Thomas is the principal of Halverson Elementary School.

Something great is going on in the classrooms at Halverson. Kids are making mistakes.

How is this a good thing?  Let’s take a look at math. 

A very large growth curve is taking place in our classrooms and you see it in math. There are a couple of key components to this growth in math.

Johanna Thomas

Johanna Thomas

One thing we know about math is that growth and understanding take place when you are willing to attempt a math problem, even if it means you make a mistake.

Another is the importance of math discourse with others. This takes a mindset and belief that everyone can learn math.  Halverson students have that mindset. Learning takes place when you are willing to try a math strategy, solve a problem and then discuss your approach with others. This happens daily during student math learning. New concepts are well presented and practiced together as is traditional and important.

However, the most important piece of growth takes place from the students. Within math learning time students are asked to dive deeper into math concepts in which they explore how to solve the problem using new and traditional strategies. The students use these strategies to solve a problem and then discuss, defend, present, assist and share their solution with others. This is one of the more important pieces of growth from the students that all of us are seeing.

The sharing that students are doing may be individually with the teacher, in small groups or as a whole class, but is a constant in math. This also means that most of the talking comes from the students. 

In addition, (no pun intended), the process of presenting, and possibly making a mistake, is respected.  The result is conceptual understanding of math. 

We have all heard the comment, “I don’t know how to do that math problem.” At Halverson you will hear, “I don’t know how to do that math problem, YET!”