New Teacher Reflections

What is obvious to a teacher is not obvious to students:
• It is easy to assume that students think like us.
• The challenge for teaching is figuring out how students’ ideas make sense.

“Conceptual Understanding:”

• It is easy to make connections for ourselves.
• It is impossible to make connections for others.
• The challenge for teaching is figuring out how to support others in making connections.

Every wrong idea carries a grain of truth:
• It is easier to see mistakes than to see what students do right.
• It is easier to learn if we can see what we are doing right.
• The challenge for teaching is figuring out how to build on students’ mathematical ideas.

First I thought that a Teacher must be right in all things.
Then I imagined that my teacher was wrong in many things.
Then I realized what was right and what was wrong.
What was wrong was to remain in either of the first two states.
What was right was to convey this to everyone.
From “The Wisdom if the Idiots”
Idries Shah
How do you think this quote relates to teaching and learning?


  1. I liked that you said what is obvious to teachers is not necessarily obvious to students. Sometimes with my kids at school I struggle not to sound like I can't believe they don't know that, even though sometimes I feel that way. I have to remember that we don't all come from the same experiences.

  2. This quote identifies that teaching is not an exact science... it is never one thing or another, but rather multiple things all at once. over the course of this semester we have identified several relationships that are similarly dialectical... theory and practice... what's good for the group is not always best for the individual students and vice versa... what looks like learning to the teacher might not be authentic... what looks like good teaching might not be authentic either... educating seems to be a science of compromises and contrasts that are different for every single teacher

  3. LOVE what you said about it's easier to see mistakes rather than see what students do right. I think my success as a teacher is that I make a point to see and COMMENT on what they do right. That goes a long way as a motivator. Also, the Shah quote is also so true (and I'll be stealing it). Ebb and flow...sometimes the teacher will be right, sometimes the student, sometimes neither and sometimes both. I will miss this class.

  4. Stages - I appreciate how this quote phrases that we are all human. Mistakes are a part of everyday life, as is being right and wrong. I know I have been wrong many times in my life. And as I mentioned tonight, it took me years to see the wisdom of some of my teachers. And when I realized the wisdom of their ways, I became eternally grateful. Thanks Dr. Dickenson, I appreciate all you taught me and I know I will appreciate it even more when I begin teaching. The best part of the quote is that it is from "The Wisdom IF the Idiots!!!"

  5. "It is impossible to make connections for others." Sometimes we make various attempts to make the connections for students but what they need is for us to give them the right tools to make those connections themselves. We can provide examples and use techniques so that they are able to make the connecitons. Providing the proper support is essential in helping students make connections.

  6. In regards to autonomy, I think it is important to realize that not all of our students think like us. I think it is also just as important to be aware that there is never one specific approach. Students learn in a way that makes sense to them, and it doesn't necessarily have to be the "right" way. Being cognizant of your students as individual learners and making sure that collaboration/open communication is present is key.

  7. Rosa I like what you said about making connections. I agree that we can not do this for students it needs to be authentic. As teachers we can provide tools as you stated that will help students make those connections. Whether those tools are other peers (social cognitive theory) or concept maps (cognitive theory) giving support is essential

  8. I totally agree with the comments that we cannot make the connections for our students. I feel that I am struggling more and more each year with students who want to sit back and watch class. How do I inspire students to engage with material that they are learning only to pass state-required testing that most will never use again once they leave my classroom?

  9. Truth is good when managed well. Students often have difficulty coming to terms with feelings of denial. I have observed that clinical method is crucial in enabling students to grasp difficult concepts. So important to reassure people that nobody is perfect, yet correct answers could be grasped and faced when consistent effort is put into situations.