A Challenge to All Educators

I have a very simple challenge for educators.  Think deeply about what you believe about every student's learning potential.  Complete this sentence and post it.

"I believe..."


  1. Carmi on May 21, 2021 at 2:10 pm

    I believe that students empowered to understand the messiness of learning become life-long learners. The failure and growth we all experience as we learn anything new is a mystery to students. When they know that we all have experienced the learning pit and continue to do so their attitude about learning becomes full of energy and eagerness.

    • Steve Wyborney on May 22, 2021 at 10:26 pm

      Thank you for sharing these insights, Carmi. I really appreciate your focus on learning about learning itself.

  2. Kath on May 2, 2021 at 5:28 am

    I have been using your amazing resources for a week now with my Grade 3-6 class. It is great as it allows all students to participate simultaneously, with scaffolding available where necessary. It has allowed me to see gaps in students learning and has provided some valuable teaching moments. My class looks forward to starting the lesson with your slides each session.

    • Steve Wyborney on May 2, 2021 at 8:15 am

      This is great to hear, Kath. I really appreciate the note. Much more to come!

  3. kim on March 22, 2021 at 7:58 am

    My kids love it, they are doing so well, and I’m so happy for them, and I love all the Esti-Mystery thank you.

    • Steve Wyborney on April 11, 2021 at 9:11 am

      I’m really glad to hear this, Kim.

  4. Rebecca Chase on March 18, 2021 at 4:02 pm

    I believe esti-mysteries, splats, and cube conversations have sparked my 6th-grade students’ love of learning. They missed so much. The pandemic has robbed them of so much. When they first came back they hated any math. They didn’t want to admit how much they didn’t know. I couldn’t get them to do anything but write their name. I started using estimation slides as a way to get them to even think about numbers. Now we use everything! They can’t get enough!!

    Today, they were jumping up and down as they saw that a square number makes an actual square!! They were challenging themselves to find the biggest square number (it’s a journey…). When the next esti-mystery said “cube number” I didn’t say anything. Each one of them was trying to figure out why it was a cube. The conversations they were having (I was just listening) were some of the best I’ve heard in my 18 years of teaching math.

    THANK YOU!!!!!

    • Steve Wyborney on May 2, 2021 at 8:35 am

      Rebecca, this really details an impressive journey for your students… all the way from being very timid about math to being extremely enthusiastic. I love hearing about the rich math talk and the math joy in your classroom!

  5. Mireille on March 12, 2021 at 7:21 pm

    I believe that students need to feel usefull. Their sense of social usefulness is a powerful driving force for their empowerment.
    …Sorry for my poor english 🙁
    Deep gratitude for your help in thinking differently. Your learning matérial is really helpful to explore new ways of teaching.

    • Steve Wyborney on May 2, 2021 at 8:38 am

      Thank you for sharing this, Mireille.

  6. Jenny on February 24, 2021 at 1:48 am

    I believe the importance of giving children time to talk about their thinking when solving problems in Maths. There are many ways children see things and sometimes us as educators forget to open our eyes to this.
    I can be a student too.

    • Steve Wyborney on May 2, 2021 at 8:42 am

      Thank you for sharing this, Jenny!

  7. Holly on February 5, 2021 at 12:15 pm

    I believe in my students!

  8. Zeenat Chagani on December 11, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    Hello Steve,
    My students love the esti-mysteries. How do I subscribe to your blog and get more esti-mysteries for intermediate students?

    • Steve Wyborney on December 13, 2020 at 5:53 pm

      Thanks! To subscribe to the blog look down on the left side of any blog post for a grey subscribe box with a green button.

  9. Carol Navarrete on December 5, 2020 at 5:15 pm

    I believe students will delightfully surprise their teachers (and themselves) with what they know and can figure out if they are given the time and materials to explore, make mistakes, learn from others and do it all in a safe environment.

    • Steve Wyborney on December 6, 2020 at 9:45 pm

      Hi, Carol. Thank you for answering the challenge!

  10. surjot on July 31, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    I adore this esti – inscrutableness also my youngsters enjoy it

    • Cathy Harrington on November 3, 2020 at 7:17 am

      I believe that every student has the potential to be very successful with math. As an educator, it is my job to help them overcome the hurdles they place before themselves. If I can achieve this, then the sky is the limit for all.

  11. Daniella on June 10, 2020 at 7:03 am

    I believe that every child has capabilities, and they are all very special. And that all students have the ability to learn math, given the proper tools, environment, and suppport.

  12. D Duncan on June 1, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    I believe that relationship and passion are two of the best teaching tools in the toolbox. Connecting with kids will allow them to trust. Real passion for teaching and life is somewhat contagious. Great combo.

  13. Jordan on May 14, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    I believe…every student has amazing potential for learning within themselves, because as human beings, that’s how we naturally are! Being curious and inquisitive is a natural state for humanity and in particular children. Good education will help to bring this out, guide it, and nurture it.

    • Steve Wyborney on May 31, 2020 at 8:36 am

      Thank you for sharing this!

  14. Ms. Smith on April 30, 2020 at 5:07 pm

    I believe that teachers should be able to choose a learning method that will be able to reach their scholars in ways that fit the current growth in the classroom. Have the ability to use any tool that will help scholars reach their full potential. To help them become a powerful voice in the world today. I believe that we shouldn’t be micro-managed and given mounds of “administration work” that takes us away from finding the resources that will enable our scholars to wonder, inquire and challenge themselves.

  15. Cindy Kiel on March 9, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    I believe ALL students can learn math. I believe that the most important resource in the classroom is the teacher.

  16. Tanya on February 4, 2020 at 11:44 am

    I believe that the verbs “teach” and “learn” are problematic and do not reflect what actually happens when people undertake a shared journey. I believe that the language we are using to describe that process has a negative impact on the process itself and also negatively affects how people perceive their roles in that process.

  17. Kevin Kingswell---80--- and still sharing the beauty and power of Math. as a volunteer. on January 6, 2020 at 6:33 am

    I believe that with the compassionate help of people like you, Steve, and Professor Jo Boaler of Stanford Univ. , EVERY teacher could become a true, heartful classroom mathematician.

    While not forgetting the pioneering work of such ‘math consciences’ as Canadian John Mighton of JUMP MATH fame.

    Once that development has occurred, the ‘avalanche -effect’ of teachers lacking a love for Math. will be reversed, and world classrooms will ‘buzz’ with the exuberance of shared learning that should be the hallmark of every classroom.

    Our environment demands nothing less, if our species is to survive

    And then the stats. of every country, like your USA and my Australia, would speak for themselves.

  18. Deidre on November 5, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    I believe students need to be given ample space to think. Too quick we misunderstand speed as intelligence. Some kids are deep thinkers and should be given time to process. Sometimes language is a barrier as well. Kids know what they are doing but sometimes can not find the right words to express it. Teachers need to be expert observers and listeners to hear the whispers of what thinking and knowing truly is.

    • Steve Wyborney on November 18, 2019 at 6:11 am

      Thank you for taking on the challenge and for sharing your insights, Deidre. I’m struck by the power of your concluding sentence about the importance and the power of listening. That is truly such an expert skill that begins with an intentional focus on listening for student thinking. Thank you!

    • Kate on February 20, 2020 at 5:14 am

      I believe students do their best work when they can start with what they know, work with context and application of operations to push through to what they can figure out, test out discoveries by communicating process to others, then refine their conclusion with an eye to efficiency, often resulting in a statement, expression or equation. As has been stated by others, students need time and space for this messy process. And they need to learn what it looks and feels like to get it ‘right’, without relying on someone else to tell them that they’re right.

      • Steve Wyborney on March 1, 2020 at 9:01 pm

        Thank you for answering the challenge and posting your beliefs!

    • Jennifer on February 25, 2020 at 3:25 pm

      I can’t get past clue 2 on the estimation mysteries….Sorry, I can’t find how to contact Steve directly. Our class wants to know the answer! Thanks for any insight.

      • Steve Wyborney on March 1, 2020 at 8:59 pm

        I hope our plan to play it as a google slide worked for you. Let me know if you need anything else.

    • Beata Zgoła on November 9, 2020 at 1:39 am

      Zgadzam się całkowicie:)

      • Steve Wyborney on November 15, 2020 at 12:07 pm

        Thank you! Dziękuję Ci!

  19. atf on October 9, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    I believe… that all students want to learn but not all students learn the way we might want to teach.
    I believe… in balance; structured discovery, practice, communication, visual methods, algorithms, exploration, etc, etc, etc all have a role to play in learning maths.

    • Steve Wyborney on October 29, 2019 at 4:48 pm

      Thank you for posting this, Anne!

  20. Pauline Mpouma on October 4, 2019 at 7:11 am

    I believe .. that each child needs to visualise every social situations, materialise it before putting numbers, cardinals on them. Let us make maths class as a ring box or a theatre stage.

  21. Michelle Pollack on October 3, 2019 at 6:08 am

    I believe all students can be mathematicians. As educators we can help them see the beauty of mathematics in the world and allow them to see they can learn mathematics. Although some have anxiety, I believe we can give them a sense of hope and success.

  22. Eileen on September 27, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    I believe that all students need us to help them uncover their identity as mathematicians, scientist, engineers, reader, and writers.

  23. Jenifer Hooten on August 14, 2019 at 10:23 am

    I believe… that every child is born with an innate sense of wonder, curiosity, and desire to explore and discover. I believe that every child can be successful in mathematics given the room and space to apply their own knowledge and personality to solving problems, with the support and guidance of a caring, nurturing, competent, and knowledgeable adult. I also believe that our current education system is sucking the life out of our children, and I’m happy to see websites and people like you!

    • Steve Wyborney on August 20, 2019 at 5:52 pm

      Thank you for taking on the challenge, Jennifer!

  24. Amber Watson on June 17, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    I believe that ALL student’s have the learning potential to LEARN ANYTHING at the HIGHEST level. Learning simply takes time. #GrowthMindset

    • Steve Wyborney on August 20, 2019 at 5:58 pm

      Thank you for writing and posting this statement, Amber. It’s such an important statement!

  25. Erica Middaugh on April 9, 2019 at 8:32 pm

    I believe that everyone (children and adults alike) can learn something from each other. We should all embrace what others have to offer. I offer my students more when I am open minded enough to learn from them.

    • stevewyborney@gmail.com on April 11, 2019 at 6:49 am

      Hi, Erica. Thank you for posting this belief statement. I also learn so much from my students. It is a privilege to be in their presence!

  26. Erika Doyle on March 28, 2019 at 1:30 am

    I believe that every child has the potential to succeed in maths. I believe it is our job, as teachers, to introduce students to the world of maths which is creative, collaborative, engaging and full of conversation.

    • stevewyborney@gmail.com on April 11, 2019 at 6:36 am

      Hi, Erika. Thank you for posting this belief statement. I’m grateful that you took the time to wrestle with this and post it on the blog!

  27. Aileen Welsh on March 17, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    I believe that every child CAN do math and CAN learn to LOVE math!
    Thank you for sharing these and saving us all so much time.

    • stevewyborney@gmail.com on March 25, 2019 at 12:27 pm

      Aileen, thank you for posting this statement. I appreciate how you are also focused on the love of math. Thank you!

  28. Dan Silver on February 26, 2019 at 10:13 am

    I believe every person is a mathematician, a problem solver, capable of deep thinking, and interested in achieving success.

    • stevewyborney@gmail.com on March 25, 2019 at 12:58 pm

      Dan, thank you for posting this response to A Challenge for All Educators! I appreciate your posting your belief statement! Nicely done!

  29. Tammy on February 25, 2019 at 8:19 am

    that teachers’ excitement and wonder is contagious, and that we can foster a love for life-long learning if we value students’ thoughts and embrace our “mistakes” as opportunities for learning.

    • stevewyborney@gmail.com on March 25, 2019 at 1:04 pm

      That is a beautiful statement, Tammy. Your words contain so many important teaching and learning concepts. Thank you for posting your response to the challenge!

  30. Christine Wooding on February 24, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    I believe that every person can learn at high levels and reach success.

    • stevewyborney@gmail.com on February 25, 2019 at 6:31 am

      Christine, thank you for taking on the challenge. That is a very important statement!

  31. Patrick English on February 20, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    I believe that every child is on a path, and it is my job to show them the way.

  32. samantha on August 21, 2018 at 10:34 am

    wonder will carry a child to the point of wisdom

    • stevewyborney@gmail.com on September 2, 2018 at 8:53 am

      That is a beautiful statement. Thank you for taking the challenge and posting your idea!

      • Kaci Lee on May 11, 2020 at 1:20 pm

        I believe that the learning potential of EVERY child is limitless. As teachers, we are called to guide the learner in developing thoughts that become fluid and tangible engaging each learner’s sense of awe and inquiry until independence and automaticity is achieved.

  33. Kavi on April 26, 2018 at 3:56 am

    I believe that every kid is fully equipped with curiosity. That curiosity takes them to their level of potential. I strongly believe it’s not the way teacher teaches should be understood by kids. But it’s the way kids learn and understand is important.

  34. Bernadine on April 25, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    We are all learners, and change is a good thing.

  35. J. Whyte on April 5, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    I believe that there are no problems, just solutions waiting to be found.

  36. Gwendolyn Best on April 1, 2018 at 3:19 am

    I believe all children can learn math and enjoy learning it.

  37. Raghdaa on February 18, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    I believe every child can excel at maths

  38. Nonye Obiora on January 26, 2018 at 11:27 am

    I believe every child has the potential to learn and tackle cognitively demanding academic tasks, if given the right tools to access their own toolbox. Learning is a journey, and every child requires all the skills, support, and tools necessary for success at every stage of the journey.

  39. Scot Surprenant on January 22, 2018 at 10:03 am

    I believe every student has different ways of learning and that every student needs to be taught how to reach their intelligence by being shown how to access their own toolbox. Students also need to be taught that failure is not the end point, but the beginning. Every situation has a solution, but getting there has a different path for everyone.

  40. Kelle Brooks on January 11, 2018 at 8:33 am

    I believe that every child is born with a natural curiosity that can be brought to the surface with great lessons and by great teachers.

    • stevewyborney@gmail.com on January 13, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      Hi, Kelle. I appreciate your taking time to respond to this challenge. Thank you for contributing to the lives of so many students!

  41. Patty Molnar on November 15, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    Thank you for stretching my thinking so that I may continue to stretch my students!

    • stevewyborney@gmail.com on December 7, 2017 at 8:24 pm

      Patty, thank you for commenting on the post. I’m really glad you read this one! Have a wonderful day!

  42. Teresa Colucci on August 28, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    I believe that each student’s potential is unknown and unknowable, so I will not set limits on their potential by treating them as anything but fully capable of learning and understanding high level math. (I also believe that much of what is inflicted on students in school – arbitrary timelines imposed on all students, grades, lack of opportunity to redo and resubmit, low expectations for some, etc. – crushes the intrinsic motivation that we are all born with. I want all people to have the opportunity to learn without limit, so I am working tirelessly to create change in this direction. 🙂

    • stevewyborney@gmail.com on September 5, 2017 at 8:20 pm

      Beautiful statement, Teresa! Thank you for taking up the challenge. I love it!

  43. janie merendino on August 22, 2017 at 9:25 am

    Math makes sense and all kids should be taught so that it does!

  44. M on August 21, 2017 at 10:15 am

    I believe that every child can improve.

  45. Mark Sherbow on April 28, 2017 at 10:15 am

    I believe that all children and adults can find and see the joy and fun in the world and, of course, in mathematics.

  46. Judith Serrano on October 8, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    I believe all children can succeed . . . .no exceptions!!!!!!

    • stevewyborney@gmail.com on October 9, 2016 at 8:50 am

      Excellent! Thank you for taking the time to post this very important comment, Judith!

  47. Rick Ortega on September 8, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    I believe all students, with proper opportunities to observe, question, and discover, can enjoy math and even love it.

    • stevewyborney@gmail.com on September 11, 2015 at 5:29 pm

      Rick, thanks for taking on the challenge. Well said! I like how you connected all students to opportunities to loving math!

  48. Jeff Trevaskis on May 11, 2015 at 4:02 am

    I believe that students are waiting for teachers to show them: the beauty of Mathematics, the aha moment when understanding dawns, and the intrinsic motivation that comes from persevering and finally solving a challenging problem.

    • stevewyborney@gmail.com on May 11, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      Excellent! Way to take up the challenge, Jeff. I like how you described “the beauty of mathematics” and how you related it to intrinsic motivation. You have captured and connected many very important ideas here. Nicely written!

  49. Ann P on March 2, 2015 at 9:56 am

    I believe that students today are completely different from 10 years ago and the challenge is how in the week, the month, the semester, to harness meaningful learning outcomes, but yet still encourage free exploration.

    • stevewyborney@gmail.com on March 2, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      Ann, thank you for taking the challenge. You have clearly identified something very important here. There is great power in the free exploration that you describe here. Thank you for thinking this through and for posting your thoughts. I like to revisit this question often: What do I truly believe about students?

  50. Wendy Menard on February 16, 2015 at 10:01 am

    I believe that all students have the right to be taught in a way that helps them learn, and that all students have the ability to learn math, given the proper tools, environment, and suppport.

    • Wendy Menard on February 16, 2015 at 10:01 am

      ..that’s support…

    • stevewyborney@gmail.com on February 27, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      Thank you for taking the challenge, Wendy! Your words and ideas are very important. It is so important to reach all students. Well stated!

  51. Stacie on January 12, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    I believe that students need a patient person who believes in them, practice, and work that’s challenging to develop the confidence to take on any topic.

    • stevewyborney@gmail.com on January 19, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      Great response, Stacie! Your words are very important. I like how you’ve captured the importance of surrounding our students with patience, support, challenge, and opportunity. Thank you!

  52. Traci Logue on August 24, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    I believe that every child has capabilities, gifts, and talents that far exceed what may be visible to the casual observer.

    • stevewyborney@gmail.com on September 28, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      Nicely stated, Traci! Thank you for taking the challenge.

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