Math Rocks has been an amazing journey that will have a lasting impact on my teaching. Before walking into that first meeting back in July, I knew I wanted to lift the level of my math instruction and create more opportunities for my students to discover mathematical ideas and make connections through their own curiosity. I had been reading professional books, blogs, and articles by math gurus like Marilyn Burns but I still felt like something was missing, as if I had a great recipe but couldn’t quite get all the ingredients to mix the right way. Math Rocks was just what I needed to stretch my thinking and push me to find that secret ingredient which I discovered was right there the whole time…other math educators that love teaching math. When I stopped to reflect, I realized everything I was introduced to or participated in from Math Rocks was the result of educators that want to share their love and knowledge of teaching math. I was hooked from the beginning and all the way to the end.
I guess you could say…I was hooked with curiosity. I found myself reading math posts on Twitter at restaurants and stores, searching for the best “which one doesn’t belong” on http://wodb.ca/, trying new number talks, researching different types of problem solving, and constantly thinking about my next “notice and wonder”. My students became curious as well, especially as a result of noticing and wondering. They LOVE this! It is so rewarding watching them discover math ideas and wonder-I actual hear them saying “AHA” often and they actual argue over who gets to prove the math. What could be better than that? They also love sharing their strategies in number talks and I love that I can say EVERY student in my class waves their hand frantically to share, (ok, occasionally someone is staring into space but mostly they are engaged). They even question each other, listen to each other, and best of all…they want to talk about numbers and how they connect with various math concepts! Now that’s a math teachers dream.
My math instruction has definitely improved and so has my relationship with my students. I think I listen better now, provide the right amount of production struggle, (well, most of the time), and engage in deeper conversations about math with my students. I seem to be more in tune with their understandings and needs as we are curious about math together.
I have formed some new relationships with colleagues on my campus after I gave a math presentation during a campus math PD session. Teachers are sharing their number talks, checking out books I recommended, or stopping me in the hall to talk about their noticing and wondering successes. Could this be the beginning of a math community at my school? I hope so!
The relationships I have formed within the Math Rocks group have been influential and inspiring. Although I don’t know everyone on a personal level, it has been a pleasure learning alongside such incredibly talented teachers. I will miss having math discussions, reflecting, and stretching my own math thinking, (which admittedly some of the math we have worked on has been challenging). I realize the importance of productive struggle and how listening to others’ ideas and mistakes really does help grow your math thinking! Of course, I also need to acknowledge Brian and Regina who have been such a positive influence on my teaching. The activities, resources, and knowledge they shared was like opening presents on Christmas! I appreciate all the help and support from everyone and I hope those relationships don’t end after our final meeting.
Math Rocks really does ROCK! Now my math instruction does too!