Preface: I wrote about a thousand different conclusions to this story to prove that I’m not a complete jerk. I deleted them all. I think I’m just going to let it stand alone. Please don’t judge.
I had a student in my class at the beginning of the year who left to go to a charter school within the first month of school. So when he came back to our school a week before spring break, it made sense that he returned to my class. While I have no malice towards his teacher in the interim, I have sometimes grown frustrated that he’s not as familiar with my expectations at this point in the school year. We’ll call this child “Ross”.
That said, I’ve been trying to move my class towards a growth mindset. In this effort, I’ve been really focusing on their hard work and perseverance. So Ross, two other children “Joey” and “Chandler”, and I were all working on a math problem together. I asked students if they noticed a pattern with these fractions: 6/2, 12/4, and 24/8. Chandler immediately noticed that you can skip count by the denominator 3 times to get the numerator. This made sense to him since all three fractions represented 3 wholes. So I asked Joey and Ross if this was true for 6/2. They both immediately noticed that it was. Then, I prompted them to try it with 12/4. Again, they saw this to be true rather quickly. When I prompted them to try it with 24/8, Chandler knew immediately that the rule worked. Ross trusted Chandler’s judgment and immediately agreed. Joey, on the other hand, took a moment to look at his picture of 24/8, counting them up, and then trying to add 8+8+8.
Obviously, this is the practice that I would like in this situation. Way to go Joey for figuring out a problem for himself! And rather than chastising Ross, as I already felt like I had been doing all day long (we all have that student, right?), I chose to highlight what Joey was doing very well: “I really like how Joey is carefully checking his work to see if this is true. That’s a really good strategy!”
And Ross responded, “You should call him the thinking boy!”
“I’d really like to call you the thinking boy… but you’re not thinking right now.”