A thousand ways to be a great teacher: A look at estimation

Posted on October 4, 2013. Filed under: educational, Grade 1 & 2, reflection, teaching and learning |

When I was is in grade 2, I had an awful experience with estimation. My teacher, Mrs. Wright, was great. I loved her to death, but man did she make me feel stupid that day. I can’t remember exactly what we were supposed to be estimating that day, but it was something in centimeters. I remember coming up with a number close to 200. Again, I don’t remember exactly what we were measuring, but I was WAY off. We were asked or told (?) to share our estimate. When I shared my answer, everyone laughed. I think the answer was closer to 30. I felt AWFUL.
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I don’t know why this one learning experience had such a negative impact on me, but I can tell you it was somewhat traumatic. I know I was a keener, but I imagine I had SOME other wrong answers in my elementary school career. Why was this one so important to me? Why do I remember this negative experience to this day? Why has it impacted me for the rest of my life?
You might be thinking, Danielle, really? Aren’t you being a little dramatic? You can’t tell me an estimation experience in grade 2 affects you today. Well friends, it has. Less than a half an hour ago, my friend and I walked into this pd classroom session and she said, “how many people do you think are in here?” And I said these exact words, “I don’t know, I am bad at estimating.”
And it’s true, I am bad at estimating. It’s been proven time and time again at concerts or big events where there are tons of people, I really do suck at guessing how many people. But my question is, had I not had that negative experience back in grade 2, would I be a better estimator today? Would I have been willing to try harder at learning this skill? Would it have transferred into my life RIGHT NOW? Hard to say, but now that I recognize this, I need to do 3 things:
1) stop saying I am bad at estimating, and start trying to use strategies to help me become a better estimator.
2) make sure that I share my experience with my class every time I am about to teach estimating so they hear the negative impact it had on me, and so that they are aware of not making others feel like I once did.
3) share this experience with others so they can feel sorry for me. Just kidding- share it with others so that my experience can help others reflect on their own childhood learning experiences and how they affect our lives today.
What early learning experience have you had that you know affects the way you do something as an adult?<

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