Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ten: Establish Math Learning/Teaching Norms, Rules, and Protocols

What norms and protocols create a great math teaching/learning community?

How do you create those norms, protocols, or rules?

I suggest that early in the year, perhaps after you give the first social skills, effort, and attitude survey, you and the class talk together about what makes a great classroom community. Preface the discussion with a short rationale such as students who learn and know more generally have more choices and opportunity for success and happiness. To know math well means that you'll be well equipped to problem solve, make good decisions, and discern facts and figures--this is all good when it comes to living well. That's why it's important to me that everyone learn as much as possible this year, and together we can make that happen by creating positive guidelines for our teaching/learning community.

There are a lot of ways that you and your students can create a guiding list of rules, protocols, and norms. One good way is the following:
  • Pose the questions: What makes a great math teaching/learning classroom community and what doesn't make a great math teaching/learning classroom community? Typically thinking about the positive and negative together elicits more ideas.
  • Next have small teams of students discuss this and write down their ideas.
  • After that gather the class and let teams share their ideas one by one. As each team shares an ideas, other teams should cross that idea off their lists if its the same.
  • In the end, review the list with the class. Ask students if they noticed anything missing. 
  • In the end, if there are other norms, rules, and/or protocols you'd like to include, share those.
  • Make a clean copy of the list yourself or ask a student(s) to do it. Hang the list up where you can easily refer to it throughout the year. Make revisions and additions as needed. 
  • From time to time stop to talk about the list and as a group evaluate the math teaching/learning community? 
Generally when students help to create the norms, protocols, and rules, everyone takes takes it more seriously. This is one good way to start the year.