First off, thank you very much to Bowman for his amazing, thoughtful, well-written guest blog posts. I told you he was a tour-de-force and I can only say that I hope you’re finding his ideas as inspiring as I have. I’m stealing everything I can from him. I hope you are doing the same. I’m all about the concrete, and he gives me the concrete. Inspirational, he is.
So I’m now back in New York City. Home. I attended 5 weeks of professional development. Two weeks at the Klingenstein Summer Institute in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, followed almost immediately by three weeks at the Secondary School Teacher’s Program at the Park City Math Institute in Park City, Utah.
Yes, I’ve gone from this to this:
Current Status of My Thoughts
I have to say: I am burned out. Five weeks is a long time. I am also inspired, and hope to soon sort through all that I’ve taken away to make some serious changes in my classroom. And next year, I am only teaching two preps (Algebra II and Calculus, but not the AP Curriculum). So I will have the breathing room to make changes, I hope.The changes will involve intentional group work and formative assessments, coupled with much more intentional atmosphere building of a place where mathematical thinking (right or wrong) is valued and errors are celebrated and not something to be feared.
Yeah, I know. These are small changes and you think I need to be more ambitious.
JK. I know these are huge. It will take a lot of thinking to figure out how concretely to enact them. It’s easy to say these ideas, but it’s way harder to actually visualize them happening, if I close my eyes. I have some ideas, but not nearly enough.
I’m also worried about finishing the curriculum (especially in Algebra II) next year I try to go for depth and misconceptions and mathematical thinking, rather than try to go at those things but then succumb to the expediency of the moment and don’t allow time for grappling and productive struggling and discussion. But I’m less worried than in previous years, for some reason, and I’m ready to just go for it and see what happens. I suppose it’s because I’ve taken a vow to not underestimate my kids and their thinking abilities. Which I think I’ve done, unintentionally, and now I have to correct that. So if any of you have experiences of making the transition from teaching procedures to teaching thinking, any want to share any advice, puh-leese help me out here in the comments. (I don’t only teach procedures, to be fair to myself, but if I had to put myself in a camp, I would put myself more in a procedural camp than the thinking camp.)
I promise I’ll share my thoughts about changes I’m going to make in the classroom next year, as I sort through things, just like I did with my maybe-too-extensive blogging about standards based grading last summer.(That being said, I also suppose I have to talk about how I’m going to revise SBG for next year in calculus. Which means I have to figure out how I’m going to revise SBG first. Hu-uh. Feeling daunted now.)
Last year I was timid about making changes. I did Standards Based Gradings, and I felt that was “enough.” I think that was a good start. But it was like a bandaid on a bigger problem. I need to work on my craft in the classroom, and SBG didn’t change that too much. And so this year: I’m going for a sea change. No more glacial change, I’m jumping in whole hog, and mixing metaphors like similes are to analogies. Or something.
I praised Bowman for being specific and concrete, and look at me here, being all musing. Sorry. It almost feels like I’m trying to psyche myself up for next year, and committing myself to change by announcing it publicly. Yes, I suppose that that’s exactly what this is.
I hope to be more concrete soon. It’s just that, well, this here blog has always been for me, partly to archive what I do (the concrete) and partly for me to sort through what I’m thinking and get some ideas down… because when they slosh around in my head: 1. I can’t sleep 2. I get a headache 3. I get paralyzed with the overwhelming sense that I need to do something but I don’t know what. It’s the paralysis that I hate the most. So I’m hoping to avoid that by starting to put thoughts to page. But I know: I hate reading these kinds of posts too. So if you got to this point: sorry.