Here I am. I have been a blogger in days and years past, and it always seems to start off gangbusters, and then fade away. However, I have been convicted recently to start up my writing again, even if just for my own personal record of my learning. I teach mathematics and love every minute of it. I also teach science, which I also love, but my road to being a mathematics educator and leader has been one of personal and professional self-discovery, and so my role as a maths leader is what I really love to do each day.
Pictured above is Jerry. Jerry belongs to a student in my class who has had a profound impact on me as an educator in general, and as a mathematics educator specifically. This is the first year in my role as math leader that I have really begun to dive into the ‘meat and potatoes’ of authentic mathematics education. I spent the last several years reading and learning and sharing, and this is the first year I have had the opportunity to put my learning and passion into practice in a classroom. I reorganized my long range plans by concept, and have built my program about depth of understanding of mathematics, rather then procedural memorization of mathematics. We spend a great deal of time talking about math, and sometimes fighting about math. We tackle big problems for several days at a time. Our goal is always to get to the WHY of the mathematics.
It’s been a challenging shift for most of my students. They are in a place where they are accustomed to linear math units, focusing on procedures and steps and memorization. They are used to traditional assessment and homework. I started off by throwing those things out the window. The kids had a lot of questions; and so did their parents. And it was a battle. It still is some days. There are days where I wonder if what I’m doing is the right thing, whether or not I’m doing my students a disservice in someway. I wonder if I am leading my colleagues in the wrong direction.
So, back to Jerry. As I mentioned above, Jerry belongs to one of my students. The reason why Jerry is my starting point is because of what Jerry represents to me. His owner is a student that reminds me each day that I’m on the right track. He sincerely wants to know and understand the WHY of what we do each day, he pushes me to think about mathematics and my work as a math teacher in new ways. When I wonder if “I’m getting it right”, he reminds me that the hard work is worth it. He reminds me that we are all learners together. I am exceptionally grateful for this each day. And so I could think of no better place to start than with giving credit where credit is due.
This is why I do what I do.