File this one under 'SIGNS SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH MY CLASSROOM.'
I feel like I have done something wrong when a student asks, "Is this going to be on the test?"
The word THIS is the problem for me. To a student asking this question, THIS, means a piece of information that will be copied and reused very soon (and then likely never again).
To me, THIS, might mean the act of thinking (or another complex variation on that same activity, but generally cognitive in nature.)
I would like to answer the student like this:
student: "Is this going to be on the test?"
me: "Yes, thinking will be on the test."
But more often then not, I answer, "This is the test!"
The question, which is often a sincere plea, is the difference between a student that is aware that challenges happen (and you need persistence and some kind of search of prior knowledge to solve these challenges), and a student that is taking polaroids of moments in math class space and time.
Some initial questions that I need to consider:
How do I change this polaroid mentality?
How do I create a classroom where I am always encouraging persistence?
How can I avoid a student saying, "I never learned this," followed by pencil down and blank stare?
And it just occurred to me that these may also be related to the mother of all math class questions asked by students, "When are we ever going to need this?"
But we've all been there and have our repertoire of answers for that one.