Hi, my name is Lisa…
Posted on July 25, 2014 at 12:55 am by Lisa
… and I am not one of the best, nor an amazing math teacher.
— Glenn Waddell, Jr. (@gwaddellnvhs) July 24, 2014
Steve Leinwand shared this tweet today to the group in the opening of his keynote presentation. As I read this, I so felt not worthy of this tweet. And I as have continued to read people’s reaction to TMC14 and seen similar tweets, I continue to feel not worthy. The theme of most of them is something like this: “150 of the best, most amazing math teachers in the world at TMC14…”
I am not the best math teacher. I am not an amazing math teacher. I have a LOT of work to do to improve.
There. I said it. I wrote it in my blog and I am not taking it back. It is there in print.
Ever since I have been involved with the Math Twitterblogosphere (MTBoS for short if you are not familiar), I have felt this inadequacy. I see what other teachers are doing in their classrooms. I have tried some things. Even blogged about what I have tried. But for the most part, I haven’t changed a whole lot in my teaching since I started Twitter almost 5 years ago. Every school year, I start the same way. I am going to make this change, that change, and the other change. And every year, the same thing has happened, particularly in the last three years.
(School) life gets in the way.
For the last three years, I have had changes galore thrown at me in my professional life. Whether it has been new curriculum (now we’re teaching Common Core for the basis of the curriculum) or a different prep, I have had curricular changes the last three years. And there have been lots of TLAs (three letter acronyms – thanks Eli!) thrown at me in the last three years as well. I barely deal with the changes as they are happening to me. And I revert to what I know.
Teaching procedural stuff as best I can because I can explain well HOW to do it.
That’s not to say that I haven’t incorporated some conceptual stuff, because I have done that. But the reality is that many of my days in the classroom have been as the teacher who is teaching the procedural stuff I do it well.
But, I’m not incorporating real-world into my classroom. I see the stuff that Dan Meyer is doing with three-act math and what Mathalicious is doing with real world problems and I am intimidated as all get out. I have been an EnCoMPASS fellow for a year (and am signed up for year two!) and I want to do some of the wonderful Math Forum Problems of the Week and I have even started it with my students once and I gave up. I don’t know how to teach this way. When Steve Leinwand said today that math teachers today don’t have the support to teach the way we need to teach, I knew he was 100% correct. because I am one of those teachers.
I have asked advice from many. I have exchanged many emails with Max and Suzanne at The Math Forum and sought advice from Steve Leinwand and Dan Meyer and Bill Thill (after meeting him at a NCTM conference) and have done nothing. Done. Nothing. I’m scared and overwhelmed with all of this change.
Intellectually, I know I need to do it. What I heard from Steve today did nothing to change that belief and confirmed that I must make the changes. I have to help students make sense of the mathematics. I have to ask the right questions of my students. I need to encourage them to convince me why they know something mathematical is true. But I also know I need help. Steve is very correct in saying that we cannot do this by ourselves. I know that. However, I also know the reality of the people I teach with. I am in the minority, I believe. Which, is why I come to Twitter and Blogs.
As much as I would like to collaborate with my colleagues I see face-to-face, I am not confident in that. So I turn to the resource I have been able to count on for the last five years: the MTBoS. Help me to learn. Share with me how to make the changes. Help lead me there if you know where to go.
In return, as I work to make changes in my classroom in the upcoming year, I will do my best to share here on my blog. I have gotten away from it too much in the last year. It isn’t all pretty, but I write as I am and share what is mine. I need to get back to it. So I am making public my first goal of the new year: I am going to blog at least once a week during the school year. I look forward to seeing more of you this year.Tags: change, reflection