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Make Math Moments Academy Forums Community Discussion Water Cooler Shifting Teacher Practice

  • Shifting Teacher Practice

    Posted by Megan Kitt on May 15, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    Last year, myself and the other district academic coaches delivered professional learning to all K-6th teachers centered around building procedural fluency from the foundation of conceptual understanding. While the sessions were well-received, the lack of classroom implementation is beyond frustrating. How do we shift an entire district from teacher-centered direct instruction to student-centered problem based discovery?

    Carla Novreske replied 3 years, 6 months ago 4 Members · 4 Replies
  • 4 Replies
  • George Garza

    May 15, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    I can’t speak to your particular situation, as I’m just a starting math teacher, but I am struck by how similar your comment sounds to math teachers being frustrated when their students won’t even try a problem after a well done lesson.  I’m a firm believer that people are people, and so teachers are just teenagers with more experience.  When students don’t participate, it is likely because they don’t feel safe academically and knowledgeable enough to try.

    Might it be an issue that the teachers don’t feel like they can take the risk of implementing conceptual teaching?  Might the teachers be unclear what the conceptual classroom might look like for them as they implement it?  Have you asked them why they haven’t implemented it?

    For myself, I’ve immersed myself in as much research, advice and pedagogy as I can on the topic of inquiry learning, but I’m still unsure exactly what it looks like.  It makes me very nervous about implementing it when I start teaching in the fall.  I’m still planning on doing it, because I believe so strongly in the benefits, but I’ll be honest, it’s quiet scary, especially since I’m a new teacher.

    I hope this was at least a little helpful.  I have great respect for what you are trying to do, and I wish you well in your endeavor.



  • Megan Kitt

    May 21, 2019 at 11:11 am

    Thanks for your thoughts, George! You gave me some ideas to consider as we move into the next school year.

    Good luck with implementing inquiry learning!!

  • Denise Currie

    May 25, 2019 at 11:31 pm

    This is a probably THE most important part of changing how we teach math. As a district installs a “math leader”,  I think it needs to be loud and clear that the teachers need teaching first. Reach out to the teachers to help clarify the pedagogy around “stand-up math” and math talks, number talks, dot talks. Reach out to the teachers to emphasize that the assessment of “learning” should not be “ how quickly an algorithm is finished accurately.” Yes, we want fluency but predominately we want comprehension and curiosity and an enjoyment of the subject material especially at the elementary grade levels, where foundations are built. I have a feeling that most teachers will find this “new” approach to be very intuitive and that it makes perfect sense to encourage true engagement in math class. Mostly they will want some support in how to set the class up and get things happening differently. Once that journey is begun we will all be on our way to being better math teachers and better math learners. This will take understanding and leadership at the admin level and a buy-in from all of us to “give it a go!”

  • Carla Novreske

    May 29, 2019 at 9:11 am

    This is exactly what I struggle with the most. I want to change in a culture of resistance. We are expected to work together, create course assessments together, pace our courses together. This past year I changed some things just on my own. I’m in my 21st year of teaching, but this was only my 2nd year at a middle school public school, so I am confident as an educator, but I’m not confident in working in this situation with all its public school requirements. In fact, we were required by our district to make curriculum maps of everything we do in class the entire year, as a group. Biggest waste of time and energy ever because I do not intend to use them, it was something that the administration can check off their list of things the district needed to improve on according to some observers.

    So I set about changing little things. I made math less about me and more about the students. I made it more visual with manipulatives and drawings. There were so many things I was afraid to try, or just plain old too tired trying to change it all up in the middle of the school year as I learned them. I also feel as if I need to lead the change and bring everyone along with me….this is the hardest part for me. I love to see my coworkers try something new and be successful. I love it when we talk about how things are working well. This summer is about having and making the time to be different, to branch out, to lead by example or leave them in the dust if they don’t want to try. However, I’m also very nervous because my principal has decided to leave and the superintendent has already left, and will I again be expected to do what everyone else does (i.e. teach like its 1985?).