Monday, November 24, 2014

Why I'm Glad Math is Different Now!

I have a confession to make: As a student I never liked math!

Math was never my favorite subject. Give me a good book to read and I was happy. Have me write thank you.

Then I became a teacher.

When I began teaching 11 years ago, conceptual math just becoming a hot topic. Which makes me laugh with all the talk about how much people hate Common Core because of the way it teaches math. The math we teach is NOT common core. Common Core is simply a list of standards that my students need to master as I teach math. It is so frustrating when parents and teachers bash this "common core math", but fail to realize it isn't common core, but the revolution of math. However, I digress!

Teaching conceptual based math has made me a better mathematician. I now "get it". Dare I even say I LIKE math. I like it because I now UNDERSTAND what I'm doing. I now know WHY!

This is a great video that addresses why math is different now.

Why is Math Different Now from raj shah on Vimeo.

My favorite part is when he points out that the naysayers who say that this "new" math is too confusing and they don't get it, are the evidence that the way math was taught didn't work. Otherwise they would understand the math being taught. The math hasn't changed. Math is still math. We are still adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. These people were taught, just like me, to memorize an algorithm because that's the way it's done. They never understood the WHY or HOW.

I don't want my students doing something blindly because "my teacher told me this is how I have to do it" or "I know a trick".  As a teacher, my number 1 goal is to get my students to THINK! I want them to read, solve equations, and write proficiently, but above all I want them to THINK! I want them to ask WHY and HOW. I want them to persevere and problem solve.

So despite all of those people who hate the way "math is taught today", I will continue to teach conceptual based math. I will persevere! I will do my best to make sure that all my students LIKE MATH because they UNDERSTAND math!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Teacher Report Card

At the end of the first marking period, I send home a teachers report card. Yes, it takes guts to send it home and have parents rate me and my work, but I do believe that in order to become better we must reflect on where changes need to be made. While sometimes it is easier to ignore what is staring you in the face, in order to be a life long learner we must be open to change.

I had my parents rate items a, b, c, f in areas of communication, interest in their child, classroom management, etc.  One of my goals has been to increase my parent communication by using Facebook and Twitter so I also surveyed to see which social media platforms they were using to keep up with what was happening in class.

While I received a lot of A's (comforting for this 4.0 student) I was excited to see parents leaving constructive feedback too. I learned that my grading seemed to be tough, they would like more information on some strategies I was teaching, and still more communication home.  Though the report card was anonymous, I took time to address what I thought was valid concerns. I created some videos to help parents understand what I was teaching, copied and explained rubrics I was using in more detail, and continuously try to stay on top of my communication. 

All in all, I found the teachers report card to be beneficial in helping me to be a better teacher. I had a couple colleagues question why in the world I would put something out there where people could potentially beat me up. Yes, I did need to have tough skin, but I tried to not take anything personal. There were a couple comments that I nodded and smiled and moved on, but there were others that helped me see the parents perspectives in ways I never considered.

Will I keep sending a report card home. Absolutely!

Oh and I also give send a student report card home as well for students to complete!