“Oh, My God! I feel so smart!”

“Oh, My God!  I feel so smart!” shouted a female student in 3rd period AP Stats class today, since she was so happy that she correctly answered two questions in a row during a group activity.  It was great to hear her shout this out so excitedly, nearly jumping out of her chair with glee.  It made me feel happy, too, since I was helping her just a moment earlier grasp the concept that tossing two coins constituted one event and not two in our experimental trial; she was confusing the number of coins in her calculations of cumulative proportions with the number of times a specific outcome occurred.  I was not completely sure she understood my explanation either since she still referred to the “number of heads” as her count per outcome, but apparently, she properly discerned the finer point.

Students rarely experience that they, indeed, are smart.  All too many have bought into external and internal messages that they are not capable, smart, good, or worthwhile.  These messages come from so many sources in their lives that they soon start to buy-in to them.  This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, acting almost in perpetual motion, fueled by all the false beliefs, active in their minds, sprouting from the multitude of negative seeds planted during their life.  I see my job as the caring gardener, removing the weeds of negativity, replacing them with seeds of self-confidence that will yield much fruit over time if tended to with care.  My hope is for students to find a way to serve as their own gardener someday, helping keep their mental gardens healthy, as well as those of others they may need to mentor someday.  Until then, I keep my eye on the lookout for the smallest of weeds peeking up from the soil, tugging on them gently to pull the roots out completely, never to take hold in that soul again.

About Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher

Independent consultant and junior college adjunct instructor. Former secondary math teacher who taught math intervention, algebra 1, geometry, accelerated algebra 2, precalculus, honors precalculus, AP Calculus AB, and AP Statistics. Prior to teaching, I spent 25 years in high tech in engineering, marketing, sales and business development roles in the satellite communications, GPS, semiconductor, and wireless industries. I am awed by the potential in our nation's youth and I hope to instill in them the passion to improve our world at local, state, national, and global levels.
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1 Response to “Oh, My God! I feel so smart!”

  1. colintgraham says:

    It’s great that you had this moment. Statistics and probability really needs to be investigated/explored much earlier in most maths curricula than it is (of course, I am biased since my interest is in Stats…)

    The real “Aha!” may have been to see if tossing one coin twice had the same possible outcomes as tossing two coins once… use two students tossing one coin each. Sometimes, you need to go beyond individual explorations and use pairs/groups to help, especially in Statistics…

    Oh, and I love the fact that she thought she was smart because she could do Stats!


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