Thursday, July 21, 2016

Welcome to my first blog! 

I began my teaching career in Minneapolis, and I am currently a math teacher in the Atlanta area.   I not only love teaching math, but also collaborating with other educators to find new ways to help students understand and learn math.   I have recently been inspired by many math educators around the country that have started blogging and talking about how reflective and helpful it is in the process of teacher learning and improving instruction.    I would like to start my blog by sharing a few reflections from experiences as an educator and math teacher the past 12 years.

Even though I have primarily taught at the high school level, I believe math is a challenging subject to teach at all levels.   Math has been the one subject I have watched go through a lot of change in curriculum (particularly in Georgia) and pedagogical methods.    Myself, I believe some math topics lend themselves to more directed instruction (though direct instruction for me also involves interactive discussion), and I also believe some math topics are better approached through student discovery.  I have learned collaboration and discussing mathematics should be a staple of a math classroom no matter what learning strategies are taking place.   My classrooms throughout the years have taught me that students learn in many different ways on different days and some in different years as I looped through courses with them.   Important to note are the days where not much student learning happened at all despite my best intentions,    Above all, no matter the math topic at hand or the group of mathletes I am working with, I believe all mathematics should be learned at a deep conceptual level that affords a continuation of prior learning and limitless connections to future learning.   I also know that making this happen in my classroom means developing instruction that is enhanced by finding great resources to draw upon.  Given this, I have come to know over the years that this requires a scavenger hunt that can be either invigorating or exhausting depending on the resources a teacher has at hand.

I have found the most success in my classroom by using a variety of instructional methods that can accommodate and challenge different ways of learning and by making learning a safe experience.   I am a huge proponent of students, and myself for that matter, making and exploring mistakes in my classroom.    I firmly believe there is an invaluable depth of learning experienced when a student learns from previous work that was not correct.  At the same time, when a lesson does not go as planned, the teacher learning becomes powerful for all involved presently and in the future.   Teaching to me does not and cannot exist without constantly learning.  As much as I have taught over the years, I can honestly say all of the students who have sat in my classroom have taught me twice as much if not more than I have taught them.

Teaching is about building a network and a toolbox of resources.  Each year is about constructing a learning environment and often requires different tricks and methods than the year before.  I have spent most of my teaching years developing my own materials, learning from their outcomes, and then either revising or tossing them.  I am a lifelong learner as an educator and know that my collection of resources will never be static or a “finished work”.   I have worked with great colleagues in schools I have taught in and professional learning communities such as NCTM, MCTM, and GCTM.  I credit these people with giving me lots of new ideas, advice, and support even when I did not feel I could give anything back.   Most recently, I have been blessed to have become a part of a new type of math education community through the Math Twitter Blogosphere (MTBoS).

MTBoS is a professionally engaging community of passionate math educators, who most importantly, are still in the classroom just like me –“trenchers” is what I like to call us   I found this community through a series of steps that started with a teacher led, volunteer based professional learning session at my school; an example of the scavenger hunting for resources I talked about earlier.    Further, my teaching soul was in a really dark place when I began the search that led to this community.  Of all of the professional development I have had in my career, I find teacher-led learning and choice in professional development to be the most influential in my teaching practices.  My hopes are that many more math educators can find and become a part of this community, and I would like to help as many do this as possible.   More about this next blog. 

I am excited to be starting my blog and curious to see the path it takes me on as a teacher and educator.  I am thankful to those in the MTBoS community who have inspired me to take this journey.  I am looking forward to trying some of the new ideas I have found on MTBoS and sharing my experiences with others in my district.

I look forward to working and sharing ideas with the MTBoS community for many teaching years to come.

Thanks for reading!