One thing of the things I love most about living in Minnesota is our four seasons. Once I start getting weary of the weather, I can be sure that in a few short months, change will come. I really do love winter in Minnesota, but that doesn’t mean I don’t look forward to the hot summer days on the boat or at the beach.
Have you ever thought of the seasons of the school year?
- Beginning of the year
- The Holidays
- New quarters, trimesters, semesters
- Snow week festivities
- Testing season
- End of the school year
- Summer workshops
Of course there is much more than this, but my educational career thus far is an ongoing periodic function.
Spring finally arrived after testing season and I was fortunate to attend the MCTM conference in Duluth for the first time in over ten years. And what a beautiful spring day it was in Duluth! It was motivating to start the workshop off with Paul Gorski’s energy and passion as he presented inequities in education. Gorski challenged us to be a threat to the existence of inequity, and to recognize and address our biases. I know I have the privilege of not having to worry about inequities, but that doesn’t mean that I can be complicit to the biases found in our school system.
After the keynote, I made it a point to attend sessions that would align with the goals of my school – providing meaningful intervention, fostering growth mindset, and increasing student-centeredness in our classes. The sessions I participated in did not disappoint.
- I attended Mike Floersch‘s session on Growth Mindset before attending with Carissa Simonet’s session on intervention strategies. These sessions had my head spinning for the entire weekend with creative ideas for a new intervention program in my rural two section school.
- Chris Robinson and Nicole Bridge asked us to reflect on the hierarchy of our classrooms. Who benefits from our classroom practices? If I truly want to have a student-centered classroom, how are these activities helping me reach (or not reach) that goal.
- Megan Schmidt had a packed session on Islamic Geometry that provoked endless curiosities on the magic and wonder of compass and straightedge constructions. And I wonder if our geometry courses ever allow time for students to really explore and create these creations.
- The taboo title “Why Math is Unnecessary” piqued my interest from the start. Brooke Williams encouraged us to think about how we use math daily and how this should drive our teaching. She also introduced me to an inspiring Conrad Wolfram Ted Talk on persuading math teachers to use computers (meaningfully) in their lessons.
- And finally, I attended Scott Adamson’s session “Students Code with Desmos to Inspire Mathematical Thinking.” He reiterated Conrad Wolfram and Brooke William’s message: we are teaching students archaic computing skills – this needs to change. Our students should be learning how to
- Pose the right questions,
- Convert real world situations to mathematical representations or models,
- Compute using available technology, and
- Analyze, interpret, connect back to the real world situation.
The MCTM workshop ignited the passion and motivation to be innovative in my teaching. I am excited for the next season in my career – excited to begin working to plan a new school year with a new student-centered curriculum (CPM). I cannot wait to jump in and harness my creative juices and make positive changes in my classroom and my school in the upcoming year.
Perhaps it’s in my Minnesota blood to look forward to the change in seasons. It’s easy (for me) to get lost in how the future might look and planning for a new school year. But I also need to be reminded that the current school year is not over. I challenge you to be present in your last weeks of school, take time to enjoy your students, and continue to inspire until that very last day.