Thursday, December 8, 2016

What do I feel all new math teachers need to know...

I have the opportunity to talk to prospective Elementary teachers at the University of WI - Stevens Point today.  The talk is focused on problem solving and how it integrates into the classroom.  However, we are going to talk about much more than that.  I am bringing a few examples of things with me.  Such as a few articles I wrote, some Math Thinkers to demonstrate problem solving, some sample assessments, and a basic form that I use to evaluate instruction in a classroom.  I am also bringing a few books that I feel are important for every new (and existing) teacher to read.  The goal is to expose these current students to what we are going to expect from them as they become professionals leading our future students.

This is a whole lot of stuff.  However I want the future teachers to understand thinking at different grade levels.  The key to the whole conversation is not the tasks but the thinking the tasks promote and how a teacher promotes it.  Something that cannot be explained by a sheet of paper.  This year I have been lucky enough to be able to be in more classrooms than ever.  It just makes it more obvious that as teachers, we think a whole lot more than our students.  At first read that sounds like a "duh" statement but the reality is it needs to be the other way around.  In fact, we don't even let them get to the thinking because we "save" them from failure.

We, as professionals need to realize that the sage on the stage can no longer be a viable instructional method at any level.  We need to realize that the more math (please don't confuse this word with calculation - instead read it as pattern finding) students are doing in the classroom the more math they will learn.  

My hope with these conversations is the new instructional force coming into the field understands the expectations and can hit the ground running.  The reality is this will take some time.  If you are a prospective teacher just reading this blog for the first time, check out some of the links on the right.  They are resources from great teachers.  More than anything, be creative and try something new.  If you have talked for 10 minutes or more while teaching a have talked for too long.  

For the experienced teachers reading this blog, post a comment that you feel new teachers could benefit from.