How do we balance the things we're supposed to teach and the things students need to learn?
I'm okay knowing there will never be an exhaustive and absolute answer to this question. I think it's more valuable we continue to work toward what we think might be an answer. Working toward the answer keeps us hungry, honest, and humble. If we pretend to know the answer to this question, then we have given ourselves the false illusion that our work as educators is complete. Having worked with hundreds of educators this year in workshops and presenting to thousands of teachers at conferences, I know I'm not the only one with this burning question. I see (and feel) their heads nod when I raise this question/concern.
I don't pretend to have an answer. I encourage us all to work toward that balance. For example, as a middle school teacher, I was supposed to teach proportional relationships, but my students needed to learn number sense strategies like skip counting, multiplication, decomposing numbers, and more. I don't blame the students, their former teachers, and parents for poor number sense. It's what it is!
I could whine about it to you, my colleagues, my principal, or my family, but that doesn't change anything. If I want my students to have better number sense AND be more successful with proportional relationships, that's on me to create, nurture, and refine systems that get them further along on their learning journey. Instead of whining or assigning blame, I can do my best to include my colleagues, parents of students, and administration to play active roles in that system, ergo one goal for 2017 is to learn more about successful systems and their design principles.
What are your thoughts? Does that question plague you too?
Professionally, I'm proud and honored to have:
- Worked with amazing math teachers in TUSD who do their best, work hard, take risks and reflect on their practice.
- Given my Classroom Clock Ignite talk at NCTM Annual because I believe in using time constraints to maximize the effectiveness of what we do as teachers.
- Co-presented with Kristen Bennett (OCMC), JR Ginex-Orinion (CUE), Lynda Chung (CMC South), and Chris Shore (GMD) and learned a great deal from all of them
- Worked with teachers in these states.
- Received appreciative emails and tweets from teachers
I continue to work on:
- Family time > math conferences
- Looking up at people and the world > looking down at a device
- To-do list > email list
- Listening to > listening for (thanks Max)
- Listening to > speaking
- Learning what's important to others > what I might think is best
I loved seeing my children:
- play together
- laugh together
- tickle me
- talk about numbers
- describe the world around them
- enjoy being kids
I'm grateful for:
- vacation and family time
- those who have challenged my thinking
- those who inspired me to do the best work I can do that supported student learning and effective teaching
- teachers willing to share their successes and challenges in hopes of supporting their colleagues
Be hungry. Be more honest. Be more humble.