Hello to all the TLQP scholars!
As you no doubt know summer vacation is waning, and the start of school is on the horizon.
The perennial personal conflict between the loss of free time and the excitement of our profession is palpable!
This year we will begin our project focusing on what we touched on last year: Mathematical Mindsets. Following the work of Jo Boaler, we hope to enable our students to see mathematics as an open, growth learning subject and to have them see themselves as powerful agents in the learning process. September is the best time to make clear our classroom expectations.
From Dr. Boaler’s book we quote:
Setting Up Classroom Norms
Students come into class unsure of what expectations teachers will have for them. The first days of class and even the first hours of the first day are a great time to establish classroom norms. I often start my own classes just telling students what I do and do not value. I tell them that:
- I believe in every one of them, that there is no such thing as a math brain or a math gene, and that I expect all of them to achieve at the highest levels.
- I love mistakes. Every time they make a mistake their brain grows.
- Failure and struggle do not mean that they cannot do math—these are the most important parts of math and learning.
- I don’t value students’ working quickly; I value their working in depth, creating interesting pathways and representations.
- I love student questions and will put these onto posters that I hang on the walls for the whole class to think about.
But all of these statements are just words—they are important words, to be sure, but they will be worthless if the students do not see the words supported by their teachers’ actions.
Seven of the most important norms to stress on the first days, and throughout the year are presented for you to consider as you prepare for the new academic year. They make a fine classroom poster.
Positive Norms To Encourage in Math Class
1. Everyone Can Learn Math to the Highest Levels.
Encourage students to believe in themselves. There is no such thing as a “math person.” Everyone can reach the highest levels they want to, with hard work.
2. Mistakes Are Valuable.
Mistakes grow your brain! It is good to struggle and make mistakes.
3. Questions are really important.
Always ask questions, always answer questions. Ask yourself: why does that make sense?
4. Math is about Creativity and Making Sense.
Math is a very creative subject that is, at its core, about visualizing patterns and creating solution paths that others can see, discuss, and critique.
5. Math Is about Connections and Communicating.
Math is a connected subject, and a form of communication. Represent math in different forms—such as words, a picture, a graph, an equation—and link them. Color code!
6. Depth Is Much More Important Than Speed.
Top mathematicians think slowly and deeply.
7. Math Class Is about Learning, Not Performing.
Math is a growth subject; it takes time to learn, and it is all about effort.
There are probably many more things I should have included in this note, but like you my head is beclouded by the long restful days I have been enjoying.
It won’t be long until we meet again! I look forward to working with you all.