Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Teacher Preappreciation

Yesterday's post was feedback from a group of students that I want to do better for. That applies to this group of preservice teachers as well, but today's post is just going to be some bon mots from these guys about teaching.

I am such a teacher fan boy; I consider myself so fortunate to spend so much of my time working with people who are dedicating themselves to others. Hopefully this post shows that this extends even to before they're in the classroom. I encourage you to click on the link to their blogs and poke around a bit. I hope you have the time to read these - it's like getting a dozen semesters of elementary math ed. And you'll be able to see why I am going to miss these guys.

Kalyn gets us started: "Getting together a small group of soon-to-be teachers with the goal of having students understand and even like math more than what typical stereotypes say, creates a strong classroom. During the semester we had the opportunity to work with different people and learn from each other. We didn’t always agree on what we thought the answer was or on a particular way to solve a problem, but that was kind of the point of the class. We learned to express our ideas, and hear others ideas, and LEARN from each other. The ideas that many of my colleagues had were great and it is said that two works better than one, and I am pretty sure that 13 works even better than 2." 
     One exemplar: "Half of It: The last writing I want to submit is based on a problem that I explored. The problem was simple in nature, but contained a lot of strategy and mathematical thinking. Breaking down a problem and writing about it was something that I never did before this class, and I felt that I learned a lot from it. http://kalynjoy.weebly.com/blog/half-of-it"

Dayna: "One of the main ideas i learned from this class is to let the kids make discoveries about the content. I am now a firm believer in that students learn a lot when working with new things on their own. this also goes with being able to work with others. We demonstrated this idea in class everyday and i found myself learning so many new ideas and methods from everyone in our class. I also learned about time and how it is going to take every student a different amount of time to do their math problems."
     One exemplar: CGI story types. http://daynaball.weebly.com/mth223/through-the-eyes-of-a-teacher, "I choose this blog because i think it is a great take away from a class that confused me. I think it is important to know these strategies and making sense of them so i can help my students make sense of them in the future."

Dana: "The big idea I will take away from this class is that we need to delve into the student's thinking.  It is not enough for students to get the right answer on math problems, they need to be able to think mathematically and explain their answer.  I never thought about asking a student for their thinking before this class, and now I cannot imagine teaching math without do so"
    One exemplar on Sorting Geometery. http://danamspielberger.weebly.com/blog/the-unasked-question "For this one, I liked the challenge of writing a math blog post.  On all of my other posts, I think I tried to stay way from talking about anything that had something to do with math, but for this one I was specifically challenged to do the opposite.  This allowed me to explore math problems and pick one that I thought was interesting.  This post is one of my best because I was able to talk about something interesting to me while still being challenged."

Sarah: "This course has made me re-evaluate teaching and see the impact of looking deeper into mathematical concepts. Even the concepts that we consider simple and elementary level contains patterns and characteristics that we never evaluated as a child. An example would be double-digit subtraction. If a student asked me exactly why do we borrow, would I be able to give them a complete answer? When I think about it, I was never taught why and I honestly never questioned it. Math is so full of “just do it” and any questions are often answered with “because you just do.” How can you teach children to do it without fully understanding it yourself? This class has made me explore concepts deeper so that I can answer those difficult questions."
     One exemplar, Teaching with a Purpose: https://sarahacoutts.wordpress.com/2016/03/19/teaching-for-a-purpose/, "because I was the most passionate about this writing. I wrote it shortly after my mission trip over spring break and I reflected on my time in Dallas while also connecting it to the kind of teacher I want to be."

Amber: "Students have fixed mindsets when they shut down with math. They might be convinced that they are not ‘math people,’ be afraid of failure, or have outside sources telling them that math is unattainable. Students often shut down, and many associate math with torturous fact-memorizing and stressful timed tests. It is my role as the teacher to discourage this type of mindset in students. This means being flexible, accepting and encouraging mistakes, and modeling how fun math can be. This is especially important with people of color of women-all marginalized groups in math. I am all about equity and equal opportunities for all my students, and I can indirectly influence their future success by promoting math as a non-threatening, creative endeavor worth doing. There are no ‘math-people.’ There are just people and math, and everyone should find value in math."
     One exemplar, Whole Number Sense. http://ambergerrits.weebly.com/blog/february-07th-2016, "this one is so different from my other posts. It is an in-depth analysis that I honestly put a lot of work and time into (probably at least 4 hours of work). Like you mentioned in your comment, after writing about the whole number concepts, I have internalized them even more. There is more to write about with respect to instruction, but that is a whole other post. I edited it slightly-I proof read it and added spaces between paragraphs for clarity."

Ally: "Children are crazy creatures. They're just tiny little adults, but you know really small. Then, something I've learned from this class is that although they're small, they're mighty. They are SO smart. When we went to teach them I had this preconceived idea that they wouldn't understand some of the math that we were trying to teach them. For example, the last time we went to teach them, so on Friday. We had a set ratio, but the children needed to get the amount of sticky notes that used that ratio. At first, I had a hard time trying to figure out how that was going to work, let alone a child that is half my age trying to figure it out. I walked into that class room Friday morning having very little faith in them. This I understand is awful and I shouldn't think this way, but if I couldn't figure it out, how could they? Then, one group by one group they were understanding... WHAT?! I was amazed. This was fantastic."
     One exemplar, Flip for Math. http://allyboomsma.weebly.com/blog/i-flip-for-math-or-do-i "My last post I believe is one of my best because I was creative, and full of detail about my person gymnast life. This was the first blog post we did and I was happy that you enjoyed it too." 

Chris: "When we began our first counting circle on the first day of class, I was immediately nervous because I was afraid of being put on the spot. However, I learned quickly that this class, like the counting circle was open for mistakes, and was accepting of all kinds of input. This is encouraging for someone who is naturally introverted. Being able to come to class and worry about the important topics and not about the atmosphere of the classroom seems like a small aspect, but it makes a huge difference in my learning. It has also opened my eyes to the way I want my future classrooms to feel. This class has truly helped me foster an open mind about making mistakes, and using them to grow."
     One exemplar: Letter to a Concerned Parent. http://stromelemntarymathblog.weebly.com/blog/making-sense-of-new-methods "I worked hard to write a piece that combined daily life for me into my passion to teach and what we have learned in class thus far. I think this writing accomplishes taking the class to the next level. I did my best to take a scenario that I think teachers today are facing and came up with a solution that applied both the mathematical strategies and other teaching strategies I adopted from the class. I think this paper is decently written, and shows my understanding of what we have learned in class in a unique way."

Danielle: "Throughout this semester we have discussed several content areas that intimidate me, mostly because of my experiences learning them in elementary school. When we covered an area of concern for me I always learned new methods for approaching and solving the problems. Coming away from this class I feel much more comfortable and confident in my teaching abilities because I feel more comfortable and confident in my understanding and ability to solve the problems."
     One exemplar, Relearning How To Multiply. https://minsterd.wordpress.com/2016/01/27/relearning-how-to-multiply/ "I believe that this is an exemplar because I was able to reflect upon my previous knowledge, what I learned in our class discussions, and how I want to teach in the future to write on a subject that I struggled the most on and showed several ways someone can use to solve a problem."

Kathleen: "What I've learned about teaching is how to take a student's thought and write it down. Being able to record what someone is thinking is very hard. I want to know what they're thinking. I don't want to assume anything. As a teacher I need to be able to express what they're thinking. I never want them to feel cheated, or like I'm not understanding them."
     One exemplar, Math and Gym, http://mathleen.weebly.com/blog/lesson-idea-math-and-gym "an actual lesson I've done and put together for another class here at GV and I like the way it incorporates gym and math."

Oriana: "I chose a math major because I want to teach in elementary schools and show young learners what fun and amazing things we can do in math. Math consists of creativity, exploring, and not just one right answer every single time. I want to create an environment where math is fun and intriguing. Here at Grand Valley, as I go through different math classes, I feel as if am equipped with tools to share and create an environment that portrays the fun, and exciting side of mathematics."
     One exemplar, Learn the Facts. http://obenin.weebly.com/blog/learn-the-facts "I chose this one because I've tutored in elementary classrooms and helped children who struggle in math. One of the ideas that kids keep coming to me for is no knowing their facts. It's been hard for me before this class because I tried to explain repeated addition, but they still struggled because students didn't have them memorized. This topic really hit home and is applicable. I know methods to help students out."

Brittany: "For me that really hit home because as a student I HATED math. I was the quite student in the classroom that teachers liked to call on to hear me say something in class. I was terrified by that at all times but especially so during math class, because I didn't think I was any good at it and didn't want everyone in my class to know that. I would spend hours at home sitting trying to do my homework, and trying to get help from my parent, who didn't either understand what I was doing or didn't know how to explain it to me so I would understand. Now I'm not going to go into that right now because that is a whole other bag of worms that I won't open up today, but those are real issues that I had and my future students will have."
     One exemplar, Math as a Foreign Language. brittanykloe.weebly.com/blog/math-foreign-language "I picked this one because it really speaks to who I am and what I think."

Stephanie: "My favorite aspect of the class was the openness, and the acceptance of everyone. No one judged anyone for being wrong, or for not understand something no matter how easy the topic might have seemed. We were able to learn from our mistakes instead of being yelled at or put down for not being perfect all of the time."
     One exemplar, Why so negative? http://stephanieepetersen.weebly.com/blog/thoughts-can-be-deceiving was one of my best works because it was something that hit home with me, and I was able to relate with the topic really well. I am very passionate about rooting for the underdog, so actually read text proving my point on how we always give up on the underdog so easily was a fun read, and it made writing the blog very easy.

Heather's one exemplar is her course reflection, and she has a fitting conclusion: "Often I found myself questioning everything I had previously known about math and education. I know that the main purpose of this course was to give us future educators the chance to learn techniques and practice teaching math to young children, however I found that many of the things that we were taught I can use in my life. ... Above all else it was respect that made this class stand out in my mind. A true respect for my peers and knowing that I had their respect in return, as well as our respect for the professor and most importantly his respect for us as students and future educators. He truly took in our ideas, helped us develop them into something even better. It was this same respect that helped us blossom throughout the year, questioning more and becoming more confident in ourselves rather than seeking approval."

I am officially verklempt.

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