Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Teaching Math in the New Year: 2017

There's been considerable disruption with regard to math teaching and learning this year. At the system level there were greater mandates requiring substantial change and advocacy. This will continue as the system works to utilize new research about good teaching and new state curriculum expectations and assessments. There is a real need for greater inclusive and strategic process in this regard in order to update our efforts to teach math well. This disruption continues at the state level too as the state introduces standards revisions, Next Generation MCAS, and more. I expect there will be some disruption at the national level as the new leadership takes hold too.

How do these changes affect a classroom teacher like me?

Progressive Standards and Approach
First, I did push the teaching forward to meet the systemwide expectations. At the same time I advocated for efforts that I believe are important to consider. For example I quickly moved the students to the expected units, but I spoke up about the fact that this quick movement left students without a strong number sense foundation behind and asked what would we do with regard to those students. It's not the students' fault that their number sense foundation is weak, but instead a product of experience and readiness for the learning. Students come to fifth grade with a wide variety of preparation for the content. Some exceed expectations and some come to the grade level unready for the grade-level standards. As educators, it's important that we move more and more towards progressive standards so we can meet students where they are and work to move them forward with as much strength, meaning, and engagement as possible.

Organizing Unit Study
I also want to work to organize the many lessons and learning experiences I have on file to support the program. I also want to advocate for a more meaningful grade-level organization of units and study. Currently our systemwide approach differs from the progression noted in State and Common Core standards documents. I feel that our approach saves some foundation study until later whereas if taught earlier it would foster greater support for later units as well as greater engagement. Also some of our units are taught after the standardized assessments which test students on that content. I believe that students should be taught all standards prior to the standardized assessments. I will work with my grade-level colleagues and administration to advocate for possible changes.

Integration of Modern Day Tools, Research, and Information 
In order to make math learning and teaching more meaningful and engaging, I will look for ways to integrate more modern and meaningful tools, research, and information. I want the math learning to be engaging and meaningful for all students.

As always I will seek ways to positively respond to students' learning efforts to inspire and lead their learning.