Things I (try to) Never Say

This problem is easy.

Whenever I hear someone saying this, it kind of makes me cringe. I have had instances where I have been working–quite happily–on a problem for half an hour, maybe even longer, in a professional development situation and someone comes up to me and says “oh, that one was really simple.” How does that make me feel? Well, I’m an adult. I don’t judge my own self-worth on other peoples’ opinions. But students, especially when it comes to math, aren’t usually so grounded. I try not to say this myself, and I try to get students to not say it either. Or at least I make them explain why they found the problem easy.

You just have to memorize it.

Translation: I can’t think of a way to make this idea meaningful to you, but learn it anyways.

Because it will be on the test.

‘Cause that’s the mother of all motivational devices, isn’t it?

Remember what we talked about yesterday.

So not helpful. Because if they did actually remember this, they probably are already thinking about it. And if they don’t remember, me telling them to remember is not going to magically make the neural connection in their brain start firing. This is probably the one that I slip up on the most–just did it, well, yesterday.

That’s just the way you do it.

Translation: I’m too busy right now to explain the reasoning behind this idea to you.

Alternate definition: If I take the time during class to go over this in detail, we won’t have enough time to do the lesson I have planned for today.

Sorry about that quiz grade. I guess you should study harder next time.

With my new SBG system, I’m not even allowed to say this. And I love that.

I’ve already had one student pass a skill re-check (that’s what I decided to call them) and I have another three students who have made appointments to come see me next week.

I’m sure I’ve left off several things that I just can’t think of right now. How about the rest of you? What is on your list of things to never say?

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5 thoughts on “Things I (try to) Never Say

  1. I’ve been guilty not of really saying “this problem is easy” but having kids ask, “Is this test/quiz/homework going to be really hard?” and me saying “No, i don’t think so” and they they bomb it…

    Anyway I’ve read several of your posts, I really dig them. I’m a first year teacher and I’m already feeling extremely cynical and disillusioned about grades and grading… I also feel like I have somewhat unconventional views compared to my colleagues… so I have nobody to talk to or hear opinions from most of the time. So thanks!

    • I’m glad you’re enjoying my posts, and even more glad that you feel like you’re getting something out of them!

      You’ve probably heard this a million times already, but…the first year of teaching is HARD.

      I spent many hours my first year wondering what the hell I was thinking, deciding to go into teaching. It gets better. Four years into teaching, I finally feel like I’ve found a place where I feel really comfortable and happy with my teaching. It’s part based on experience, part based on the school I’m at this year. Having a school that is a good fit for you is important. You might not have a whole lot of choices in your first few years, but as you get some time logged under your belt and if you’re still feeling like your colleagues aren’t right for your goals, I would tell you to look for a different place to work. And in the meantime, feel free to comment/question/vent here if you need to. 🙂

      • Aw thanks! I actually am just starting to realize how lucky I am to be where I am. I really love it. It’s a small independent school. I was just recently discussing some of my ideas about alternative assessments, teaching problem solving and thinking above content… and so on… with the head of the upper school and he was super excited about it all. Their mantra at this school is “depth over breadth”.

        I can only imagine how much easier next year will be, and each after that. My colleagues in the math department are one thing, but I think the school in general is a great place to try out really “different” ways of teaching. They get all excited when I talk about having kids read and write for my class. Ha.

        Of course it’s all easier said than done, but at least I’m constantly learning… 🙂

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