Friday, May 29, 2015

Diving into math...

I would not categorize myself as a "math" person. I did well in math, but I loved reading and that was how I identified myself, and still do really. I'm a bookworm. But when I started teaching I found that I really did like teaching math. I liked working with the students who weren't understanding the concepts most, not that I always knew how to get them to understand, but I liked breaking down the processes. Which is weird because I'm usually a very big picture person, but I digress.

Part of the process of expanding my role to STEAM coach is to delve into the math and science curriculums. So I have done that, in what can only be called baptism by fire. My first foray into the math curriculum was to join a group creating curriculum documents for the district. To say I was lost would be an understatement. These ladies knew the curriculum and they knew the trials and tribulations that the teachers have gone through in teaching math and teaching math with our current adoption. So I didn't add much, and I didn't add much to my second meeting where teachers were working on the curriculum documents, but I learned a lot.

I've never been involved in curriculum writing. I dodged that bullet by hiding behind the shield of my children. (Summers are precious when you have little ones.) I had no idea what to expect when I went in there, but the process is very interesting. Breaking down the TEKS and curriculum, putting it all on a calendar, determining what pieces are most important and which can be given a nod and a glance.

As a classroom teacher I just took the curriculum for granted. Here's a math book and here's a district document that tells me what to do when. I'd glance at it and go about making my plans and finding my resources, but I have a new level of respect for the people who do curriculum writing. The old adage you can't please everyone all the time is definitely true.  Just trying to think about all of the teachers in the district and all of the kids in the district and trying to create something that is relevant and useful to all of them makes my head spin. Yikes.

I'm also getting really excited about math though, and finding ways to incorporate STEAM into math (which sounds counter-intuitive, but math isn't always taught as in innovation subject). I've also attended one vertical math planning class, bridging 5th to 6th and a math residency for Kindergarten and first grade. The vertical meeting was wonderful. The conversations between the fifth and sixth grade teachers were eye-opening. Those sixth grade teachers have a lot to handle. Looking at the TEKS from one grade level to the next was an eye-opening exercise too. In fact, I think that should always be done. It is so important, and I never realized just how important it is to be able to make those connections and to see how what you are doing today is building a foundation for tomorrow. Obviously I know that's how learning works, but I mean concretely.

The residency was especially helpful in getting me oriented with primary grades. I'm deathly afraid of primary grades. So seeing how they work with their students to teach math was fun and enlightening.

I'm looking forward to a summer of more fun and learning.

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