Sunday, September 20, 2015

AMSTI/IAT training Day 1

Lately I have not been a "person of many words." HAHA! I guess sometimes we hit a busy season and there are some things that have to be "cut" from our daily routine. So far this school year the part that has been cut out of mine has been taking time to blog and reflect. I really enjoy doing it and intend to continue...at some point.

The pilot that was started at Etowah High School last year has expanded through a partnership between AMSTI and It's About Time. This past week we had 2 days of professional development. Again, I have never seen a textbook company invest in the teachers who used their books in this way. They are truly committed to teaching teachers the best way to teach with their curriculum. Thank you to AMSTI and It's About Time for this opportunity.

One of my favorite conversations on day 1 was about "prizing the doubt." Michael Reitemeyer was the presenter for our algebra training and he had a course with a professor named Mandy Jansen who had told them that one "scholarly disposition" is to prize the doubt (Here is Michael's blog about this topic). Below I am going to paste the notes I took during that discussion.

Prize the doubt - to be comfortable with uncertainty, embrace and welcome times of uncertainty, not having everything figured out all the time, people go through "early foreclosure" just to feel certain again 
*assume that I think you are all smart 
*an alternative way to engage is to wonder...or posing thoughtful questions 
*get excited about having things in progress

I am proud to say that I spent the entire year last year dealing with the doubt and uncertainty of teaching a new curriculum (IMP Meaningful Math) that was very different than anything I had ever done before. I truly believed the research and the testimonies of other teachers but it really felt so strange and different. I can relate to the "early foreclosure" part because I remember the first few times I tried teaching my students in groups I thought it wasn't for me. I kind of thought that teachers at other schools with different types of students might be able to teach that way but it just wouldn't work in my classroom. Thankfully...in the 2013-2014 school year I had already spent the year determined to make groups work in my classroom so the transition into teaching using the IMP curriculum (2014-2015) was not quite as hard. Since I trusted the curriculum I was willing to just have the attitude that I was going to do the best I could because I believed it was best for my students. As time went on I was less nervous and really enjoyed teaching with the curriculum. After spending the day with veteran IMP teachers/trainers and other incredible math teachers throughout the state of Alabama I feel like I have so much more growing to do. I just have to take a deep breath and remember I can not completely change my teaching practices in a year. But I will "prize the doubt," remember that I am smart, and get excited about the things I have in progress!!

Other things that stood out to me during our Day 1 training are listed below:
  • Wonderment wall/board - when students have good questions write them down and display them in class...then as you have ways throughout your lessons/units that you can address the question you have a visual reminder
  • I need a document camera!
  • Sometimes when you have a student to "share out" it would be good to sit in the desk that they vacated to have a visual cue that they are leading the learning at that moment
  • Give students space to ask questions and have "divergent thinking" - the questions may not be mathematical all the time but they own the math more when they have invested
  • According to Michael the #1 quality of a good teacher - listening....compassion would listen, flexibility comes from listening, connecting comes from listening 
Lastly, I was honored to be included on the panel for a brief question and answer session at the end of the day. Brian Lawler facilitated the discussion and afterwards we talked a few minutes. One of the questions during the discussion had to do with pacing and how much time to spend on the units. He said that Sherry Fraser (one of the authors of the curriculum) told them in a training one time that if the pacing guide says to spend 20 days that you should stop that unit after 20 days even if you are not done - which is mind-boggling but I intend to follow her advice! I told Brian that I took forever teaching Overland Trail last year. He said, "I know. I was following your blog and felt sorry for you students. I thought that they would never get to California!" HAHA!