The alarm clock goes off. It is only 15 minutes earlier than usual, but still. Could there be enough coffee to get going this early? From my warm, quiet bed, I wonder if it was a good decision to enroll in a math class that runs from 7:15 to 9:30 am every Wednesday. After wrangling all members of my family through breakfast and our morning routine – because 15 minutes early for me means 15 minutes for everyone at my house – I enjoy the drive to Trinity with slightly less traffic.
Arriving at school, ready to learn at 7:15, a small and dedicated cohort of 14 faculty-learners gathered every Wednesday morning to deeply study, learn, and implement NCTM’s Mathematics Teaching Practices. These eight teaching practices provide a framework for strengthening the teaching and learning of mathematics.
Sounds a little boring, huh? Was it worth it?
“Yes! This class has helped me deepen my learning in math, and then in turn, deepen the way I teach math for my students. I loved being able to take the math we did and applying it in my classroom through number talks, number strings, children’s literature, and mathematical practices. I always was thinking deeply about math as soon as I entered the class at 7:15 because of engaging tasks and conversation with colleagues.” Caroline Tritschler, Kindergarten Teacher
“I enjoyed the opportunity to work on math that was applicable to my grade level, but we also had the chance to see where our students have been and where they are going. I also felt as if this class pushed us to strengthen our own number sense, perseverance, and use of strategies – all of which are qualities we strive to empower in our own learners.” Casey Leonard, 2nd Grade Teacher
“This course was a huge asset in recognizing the connections throughout grade levels. I loved seeing how our calculus work could be translated into finding patterns and connections the same way we do with our most fundamental skills in Pre-K.” Katherine Anderson, Pre-K Teacher
What is worth it? What was learned?
“I learned new ways of solving problems and showing my work, different ways of thinking about a problem, and validation for insisting that students have a full understanding of the “why” behind concepts.” Vicki Eyles, 5th Grade Teacher
“I feel like I really understand the importance of showing your work in more than one way and being able to explain your thinking to others. I better understand the importance of laying a foundation for using manipulatives and drawings that will carry far past an early elementary level.” Mary Catherine Gober, 1st Grade Teacher
“I am more thoughtful about the questions I ask students and I feel like I can give parents more detail about our approach to math instruction. Additionally, I have a deeper understanding of the benefit of talking to others while “doing” math, as well as the importance of showing one’s thinking in more than one way and making connections to others’ work.” Hilary Daigre, 1st Grade Teacher
What was learned? How has it helped Trinity students?
“My students seem surprised that I am in a class, learning more math. I like to share my struggles and successes with them, modeling growth through perseverance and sharing of ideas with other teachers. I have been able to share my experiences with them, using them to encourage their growth as students. Learning with others who have different backgrounds, strengths, and perspective has been powerful.” Vicki Eyles, 5th Grade Teacher
“I have seen tremendous growth in our class as they begin to take a risk in showing their work in multiple ways. Even those that “struggle” are at least willing to take a risk in trying to solve a problem. I believe the work we did in writing learning progressions for a specific topic has really helped the students want to reach for a higher level or at least work towards asking questions to better understand the problem before they go off and try to work through the problem.” Mary Catherine Gober, 1st Grade Teacher
“Our work with multiplication and division was mind-blowing! I LOVED learning the various ways to approach multiplication/division, including using manipulatives and drawing models. It made more sense to me than anything I had learned in the past. I have shared stories about this experience with my class, including how I had to make sense of problems and really think about how I could solve them. I may not have had the most efficient method for a particular problem, but by talking with others and connecting to what they did, I was able to persevere and feel successful.” Hilary Daigre, 1st Grade Teacher
“I have a greater appreciation for the number line, the modeling, and the ability to make connections. I think the work we did impacted my students weekly. The activities we did I was able to either take back to my students or reminded me of other activities that I then used with the 6th graders. The visual patterns and connecting representations (work from Fawn Nguyen) was the most recent example. The 6th graders loved it. I also really enjoyed the math in literature as did the students!” Kristi Story, 6th Grade Teacher
But… was it boring? Would you recommend this experience to your colleagues?
“It was so much fun to be able to work with colleagues across EED and UED. I think my favorite part was mathematizing children’s literature.” Caroline Tritschler, Kindergarten Teacher
“It’s not only a great place to learn and grow in your understanding, but it’s also a great place to get to know your colleagues in a smaller setting. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know teachers that I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten to know. I genuinely looked forward to Wednesdays because of this class.” Chandler Balentine, 4th Grade Teacher
“I think it is both valuable and fun to spend time struggling with math problems which help us understand our students’ perspectives.” Jon Frank, 5th Grade Teacher
“I think the whole faculty (those that teach any grade level math) should embolden their inner mathematician. I think it was good to have a broad range of “comfort levels” in these sessions. We all learned from each other.” Kristi Story, 6th Grade Teacher
Without fail, at 9:30 after all was said and done, the time that was spent learning pedagogy and math, in fun, creative ways advanced teaching and learning at Trinity. Each Wednesday was a long day, and it was an important day for learners individually and collectively.