What is your vision of effective mathematics teaching and learning in elementary school?
This is a new question for me. This blog is Learning About Learning, and I have a lot of learning to do about mathematics education.
I am hoping you can help me.
Here are a few of the things I am thinking about right now. What can you add to this? What have you learned in your own practice? What do you think about when you consider a vision for teaching and learning mathematics?
I think that efficacy is critical. Students have to believe they can achieve at high levels. Teachers have to believe that students can achieve at high levels and that teachers have the capacity to get students to that high level.
Is mathematics skills (as I was taught), or is it ideas (as Dr. Marian Small suggests)?
Is math about making connections? Is it important that we work with big ideas rather than teaching skills and concepts only in isolation?
I think students have to be able to choose the tools and strategies they need to help them solve problems.
It isn’t up to us to tell them what tool to use, but to teach them how to use many tools effectively so they might pick the one that is right for them in each context.
Math needs to be fun. Kids need to be the ones doing the thinking. Teaching through problem solving can be very effective (problems are not add-ons).
Teachers need to collaborate with other educators, to share their thinking openly, to challenge the thinking of others, to read and write blogs about their work. Isolation is a choice, and isolation is unprofessional. Kids need the thinking of many professionals, not just the one assigned to them.
As I work through #mathleaderNEO over the next few years, I plan to grow this thinking.
When we talk about “Visible Learning” and “Visible Thinking”, can we now focus more on the Thinking and Learning than on the Visible?
This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina!
Recently, I was sharing some learning on Twitter with a colleague from the Early Years Division. I did my homework, and decided to show her my favourite hashtag – #FDK (full day kindergarten). This demonstration never fails to bring smiles to peoples’ faces, as it is filled with young children doing activities in kindergarten.
But this time, my colleague said, “I see lots of activities. What about learning, how do I find that?”
It made me think, once again, about that word value.
There is lots of “noise” on Twitter. How do we help educators find the value through all the “noise”?
How do we ensure that we are not looking at flashy “busywork”, but that we are engaging in online examples of visible student and educator learning?
Just because we see pictures of kids doing cool stuff in blogs and on Twitter, doesn’t mean learning is happening.
Last spring, Andy Hargreaves performed an experiment with the audience at #uLead15. He showed portions of images to the audience, and asked whether the students appeared to be engaged or not. The demonstration showed us that we need to question our understanding of the word “engagement”.
The appearance of student engagement does not necessarily mean that learning is happening.
Seeing “engaged students” on social media prompts questions about whether we are looking at real engagement, and whether or not learning is actually occurring.
Perhaps when we are viewing “visible thinking”, we need to focus more on the thinking than the visible.
Not all that is visible on social media is learning.
The OPC (Ontario Principals’ Council) PQP (Principal Qualification Program) courses were, for me, hands down the best professional learning I had ever had at the time.
Taking my PQP Part 2 was, for me, an every second weekend, 20-hour, round-trip drive to Sudbury, driving a standard transmission car with a broken right arm (in a cast), and squinting through many ‘north of Superior’ blizzards.
And it was worth it!
Imagine my delight when now, a decade later, I was asked to share my learning with the #OPCPQP class of 2015!
Thank you to OPC PQP Instructor Lisa Neale, a model “connected leader” herself, for inviting me to share with aspiring leaders.
This time, instead of attending the course in person (1700 km away), I was able to work with the group through a Google Hangout from my home on a Sunday morning.
Today I am sharing the learning resources we constructed together on this topic:
LEADING Technology-Enabled Learning and Teaching: Becoming a Connected Digital Leader
Here are the slides I used to focus our conversations. Below the slides is a link to the collaborative document of resources.
In January, we asked educators, “What’s your ONE WORD for 2015?”. In Ontario, we used #onewordont as a hashtag to collect the ideas, and Julie Balen created a word cloud to share.
So how’s it going? Six months in, is this word still a focus for your work?
Today I am thinking a lot about my word for 2015 – COURAGE.
What does courage look like in practice?
Over the past six months, here are some places I have observed where courage is needed:
The courage to stop and not walk by. If you are a leader and you just walk by, you say by your actions that “this is fine”.
The courage to take a chance on people. I think of hockey players – talented players who flounder on one team, then thrive and lead on another. Take a chance on people who may thrive in your organization while wilting in others. Not all teams are right for all players.
The courage to pick up the phone and call, rather than defaulting to an impersonal email message.
The courage to hire the right person, rather than the person who will make the fewest disruptions.
The courage to let people rise up out of the little categories we put them in – to have a growth mindset about our coworkers and not just our students.
The courage to pick yourself up and dust yourself off again, and again, and again, because kids really do come first.
The courage to give others a chance to be great.
It’s the courage to support failure as a part of learning not just in your words, but in your practice, especially when it comes to those you work with.
The courage to ask for feedback when you fail.
In high scoring PISA nations, the courage and tenacity to stand up for what is best for children is valued and encouraged.
Earlier this year, Ron Canuel reminded us that being a connected leader is not enough. You must also have the courage to use what you learn and move forward with change.
What have you learned by focusing on your #oneword this year?
We talk a lot about the importance of openly sharing and curating resources.
One pushback I often hear is, “I just don’t have time”. I get that. The job of an educator never ends. There are always more opportunities to look for that next practice that we could adapt for a particular student need. There is always one more possibility to try to help a learner move forward.
But what if we could organize our own resources, making them easier to access, and share with others all at the same time? We could save time for ourselves and for our colleagues – and isn’t that one of the things technology is supposed to do for us anyway?
Earlier today I stumbled upon this fabulous “how-to” video for teachers to help them use Pinterest to organize and share resources. It is worth your time to watch even if you are using PInterest already. There are several helpful tips here.
(The video was posted on this blog for primary teachers. Check out the blog for even more tips on curating, organizing and sharing with colleagues.)
At OSSEMOOC (@OSSEMOOC), we have collated a number of resources on how Pinterest can be used for educators, including for school and system leaders. I have posted them below for your reference.
Here is a quick look at some resources for education leaders:
Here is a step-by-step text guide to connecting and sharing through Pinterest:
Here is a screencast that walks you through the resources included in the above text instructions:
Pinterest as a form of curation (this post includes the above screencast and further resources):
Do you need further help in getting started with Pinterest for Professional Learning? Fill out the form here, and OSSEMOOC will add it to the agenda for the 2015-2016 plan for learning.
I know by the number of times that I have shared “The Lone Wolf” by David Truss that educators are a frustrated group of professionals, advocating relentlessly to change our public school systems so they align with the learning needs of our students in a world that does not resemble the one in which the school system was originally created.
We are all part of these conversations. We know what must change. We work relentlessly, but the pace of change inside our schools can be so much slower than the pace of change outside our schools, that becoming “dangerously irrelevant” is exactly where we are in danger of heading (read Simon Breakspear as well). It can be heartbreaking work.
I have far more than five ideas to contribute. We all have more than five ideas to contribute. But this is a great place to start.
When it comes to education, we have to stop pretending…
1. That we know what school is for.
Until we actually ask this question, and come to some agreement on the purpose, we will continue to argue about what is best for our children. It is NOT to give students the skills they need to find jobs that existed when they were born. There will be far more graduates than jobs, and those traditional jobs are mostly gone. “What is school for?” must be a constant conversation.
2. That it’s okay to determine access to future learning based on a two digit number assigned by a secondary school teacher to a graduating student.
Marks are not an indicator of ability to learn. In fact, marks can be a detriment to learning. We pretend that the current system of determining access to university programs based on marks is acceptable. Marks promote cheating. Check out all the youtube videos on how to convince your teacher to give you a higher mark. Marks promote classroom competition over collaboration. Marks turn school into a game of winners and losers instead of a place where learning is sought.
Let’s find a better way to encourage all students to keep learning.
3. That it’s okay for any student to be stuck and not learning.
It is not the job of a teacher to teach. It is the job of a teacher to ensure students are learning. Not alone – teachers have access to networks of educators and professionals to help – but learning must happen. “He has the right to fail” is not an acceptable statement – ever*.
4. That it’s okay to bash teachers.
Stop. The teaching profession is the most important profession in society. “Teacher bashing” is not productive. It turns great potential teachers away from the profession. Our children need the best teachers we have to give them. Let’s elevate the profession to a place where the best people are attracted to the profession of ensuring that the upcoming generations are able to solve the world’s biggest problems.
5. That it’s okay for only some people to have access to the internet and the world’s body of knowledge.
We need to stop pretending that all children are digital natives. Many children still have no access to the internet and the world’s best teachers, and we don’t have access to their voices. That is not okay. What are we doing today to get access for these children and their families? It is an enormous inequity that we need to solve.
I am tagging everyone in my PLN to share their thinking on the five things we need to stop pretending.
I am particularly interested, for purely selfish reasons, in the thinking of the following five people:
*In the context of “earning a credit”. It is this thinking: “I taught him, he chose not to learn” that I object to, not the understanding that we learn from our failures as part of the learning process.
In Ontario we know we have pockets of excellence when it comes to Technology-enabled learning and teaching.
When I refer to “pockets of excellence”, I mean schools and classrooms where learning to do this, digging into doing this well, and supporting the understanding of how learning needs to change to meet the realities of today’s world, are front and center in their thinking and sharing.
Progress in improving learning and instruction through the use of technology is not “by chance” in these spaces. This is where communities are working hard and inviting input into figuring it all out.
The work of eLCs in Ontario has shifted significantly this year into a leadership role in boards to enable a better understanding of how we can use technology to enhance learning and teaching. As we worked to build capacity/capital in the eLC community, engaging them in conversations and learning with these ‘pockets of excellence” became a priority.
Last week, many of the northern eLCs (Thunder Bay Region, Sudbury-North Bay Region, Barrie Region) went on a “field trip” to do school and classroom visits.
Their generous hosts from Hamilton Wentworth District School Board, and Trillium Lakelands District School Board were as follows:
Ancaster Senior Public School, HWDSB (Principal Contact – Lisa Neale)
Innovation Centre (Holbrook School) HWDSB (Teacher contact – Zoe Branigan-Pipe)
Dr. J. Edgar Davey Elementary School, HWDB (Teacher contact – Aviva Dunsiger)
The Virtual Learning Centre, TLDSB (Principal contact – Peter Warren)
Special thanks to host eLCs:
Paul Hatala (HWDSB)
Jeremy Cadeau Mark (TLDSB)
The connections, the conversations, the learning and the sharing were incredibly rich. The eLC visitors and the host schools have been sharing their learning through their blogs. Some of these are posted below (eLCs/hosts: please contact me when you have more visible thinking to add to this list).