It’s the end of the year, and many of us are reflecting on the year – things we wish we had done better, or looking forward, things we want to do next year. For many of us, myself included, this process may involve (in part) some metaphorical (I hope!) self-flagellation. But people are writing hopefully about these practices, and in the interest of letting yourself off the hook just a bit, and having a more balanced perspective towards your future school years, here are a few good reads.
In Things We’re Going to Need You To Stop Saying, part 5 the Curmudgeon (self-names) debunks several blanket statements that may fit into 140 characters (ahem), statements that are ultimately harmful to good teaching. Examples include:
If your exam questions only use integers then they aren’t Real World(tm) Questions.
If your exam questions require a calculator, then you’re asking the wrong questions.
Curmudgeon points out that the learning curve requires questions with all types of input, which anyone who has designed a lesson with scaffolding well knows.
Telanna, over at Chasing Number Sense jumped feet first into a fray of student feedback. Responding to a call to action from in a course with Kaneka Turner, Telanna collected data from 50 3rd graders on their experiences in math class and their perceptions of themselves as math students.
THEN, she worked with them to dig a little deeper into that data in order to gain insight into her practice in the classroom. Talk about facing oneself as a teacher fearlessly! I love the way she ended her post: “I am glad I did not just end my year with the assumption that I know what is going on through my students’ heads as they enter and leave my math classes. I still wonder what I did wrong, what I need to change next year so that my students have this realization about the nature of math as a subject earlier than May.”
I think Don Steward gets written about in this newsletter at least every quarter; I myself have contributed several posts about his website. Is there no end to the man’s brilliance? This came up in my feed this morning:
Of course, this exercise came with well-scaffolded examples of increasing difficulty, and it’s a great Open Middle type of problem. Thanks, Don!
Food for thought: an article in the Atlantic at the end of April, How Does Race Affect a Student’s Math Education? discusses the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways in which ‘whiteness’ influences the way students of color, and particularly black students, are taught math. It’s an interesting and important read, as is the paper it references “A Framework for Understanding Whiteness in Mathematics Education”. We’ve got the whole summer to reflect on how we can transform our classrooms into equitable spaces.