Association of Teachers of Mathematics in Maine

Week 1 (January 11-17) The Math Leader's Domain of Reponsibility

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  • 22 Jan 2013 11:42 AM
    Reply # 1185913 on 1177039
    Donna Longley
    What has changed for me is that in the past I was teaching a program and I had to keep up with a calendar. I have taught in 3 different states and everyone is so different. Now I feel that I am a like a supervisor that is helping students to fully understand a set of concepts. What has been most difficult, but yet very exciting, is letting go of the -I tell and show you how to do it- method. I love letting them explore and figuring it out on their own with minor steering on my part.
  • 23 Jan 2013 10:08 PM
    Reply # 1187440 on 1177039
    I remember when I first began my teaching career.  I was standing in front of the class teaching the way I had been taught many years before.  I was troubled by this knowing that teaching mathematics and understanding mathematics how children learn were very different.  I wanted much more for my students than what I had been given.  I was very good at mathematics and I always did what was expected of me mathematically.   I decided I wanted to learn more about how kids learn mathematics when I  read a comment that said that "we teachers like to think that we can transplant our own mental models into the minds of out students by means of explanation.  It can't be done."
    This began my journey into how children best learn.  That summer many years ago I hosted both a Math Their Way and Math, A Way of Thinking workshop in my district.  As the result of this professional development,  I moved to creating a  mathematics environment where my students engaged in collaborative interactions with their peers.  The focus was on the learning process rather than the quick right answers. During the learning process, errors were looked at "natural consequences" during this process.
    There was resistance by administration at times.  The classroom was not one where the students were sitting in neat rows (columns) but rather at tables in groups of 4.  This was difficult because, at the time, you were evaluated on how quiet your class was indicating that "you were in control."  I persevered knowing that what I was doing was the best for my students.  Surrounding my students with a variety of
    mathematical experiences enabled them to internalize those important concepts within the context of real experiences. 

  • 26 Jan 2013 9:29 AM
    Reply # 1189987 on 1177039
    Elementary Math Enthusiast
    I started teaching middle school math in 1994 and was lucky enough to work on the MLR team. We used a traditional textbook which I was comfortable with but my struggling mathematicians still hated math and said that were bad at it. That is when I realized it was my responsibility to change this attitude and larger cultural perception that being bad at math is acceptable. Nobody is proud at not being able to read well but math is a whole different story. Now almost 20 years later, I am back into a self-contained Grade 5 classroom after being an Elementary Title 1 Math Specialist/Coach. While I understand high school teachers frustrations with the "lower grades", maybe they do not understand the complexity of elementary education. We have to be experts in everything. I can't just think about math, even though it is my passion and specialty. I use my Everyday Math, Common Core and now our Maine Cohort for Customized Learning standards and make sure all students are meeting those standards. And then I do the same thing for ELA, Social Studies, Science, etc. "But what would be even more beneficial if kids would be expected to achieve mastery in the lower grades, and those who aren't get the extra support there until they do." We are trying to do this, but it is a huge shift in the structure of schools. We were used to getting through all the assigned curriculum, sending them along and hoping for the best. Getting rid of grade-levels and going to a Personal Mastery sytem is very difficult, especially when Common Core is so extensive. Also let's use technology in our favor instead of blaming it. While it is easy to place blame, I think we need to think beyond that. I could go on and go, but we need to be problem-solving and especially understanding about the different challenges of many of our less sponsored students.
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