Perspective

There are approximately 1,059,000 high school teachers in the United States, according to a 2007 estimate.

There are approximately 90,000 members of NCTM.

Winter Kiss by mubblegum via Flicker CC-A-NC-ND 2.0

I have 87 people listed under my math teacher list on Twitter.

I have about 50 blogs listed in my “Math Teacher” folder of Google Reader.

While I value those I converse with on Twitter and what I learn from what y’all write, I have lately come to realize that my view of what “everybody” knows/has read is highly distorted.

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11 Responses to Perspective

  1. David Cox says:

    So what does that tell you?

  2. Jackie says:

    Good question David. I think I sometimes assume that what I’ve learned from my time online is common knowledge. And that I get frustrated when others don’t know about it/aren’t reading/aren’t participating in the conversations. And then, instead of sharing what I’ve found, my frustrations prevent people from joining the conversation. I need to do a better job communicating with those I see on a daily basis.

    This was brought to my attention in my recent grad class on technology in the classroom. We were assigned the task of making a powerpoint presentation that we’d use on parent night/open house. One of my coworkers in the class too. She looked at my slides and said, “Yours look so… professional. How do you know how to do that?”

    I had to think about it a bit. What I came up with was … reading Dan Meyer’s stuff on design, reading a bit of Presentation Zen on design, watching lots of really really good presentations designed by David Jakes, Chris Lehmann, Darren Kuropatwa, … , the list goes on. There wasn’t one “thing” I did that taught me the little I know about design, but it was more a process over the years.

    Then I realized that this applies to so much of what I do as a teacher. Thinking about assessments and grades. Collaborating about the design of a lesson. Talking about the goals for teaching a specific topic. So much of what I have learned in the past years from my online activities colors what I do in the classroom. And I forget that not everyone has had these experiences.

    Does that make sense?

  3. Dan Meyer says:

    Good word. Personally, I sense my expectations for my own practice drifting upwards whenever I read online. It’s like someone flips a switch on gravity.

  4. Anne says:

    That’s the best part about being brand new. I feel like most of you know more then me to start with.

  5. David Cox says:

    Makes total sense. You can’t help but get better by reading about everyone else’s take on things.
    I saw your four slides and immediately started thinking about how they looked nothing like any slides I’ve seen in person, but they were what I’d want mine to look like if I’d been given the same assignment.

  6. jd2718 says:

    Jackie,

    the more I’m around, the more I talk to teachers. From all over. Same level. Different level. Suburban districts. Urban districts. Even occasionally rural. Public. But also private. Parochial.

    It is fascinating to learn what we do the same, and where we differ.

    Have you ever looked at anyone else’s tests? Homework? Textbooks other than your own?

    Read about classroom procedures (not by the people who taught you)? Grading policies?

    Do you know how long the school year is? When it starts? ends? How about in the next state?

    Do you know how long the school day is? How it is structured?

    The more you read, the more you talk, the more of this you pick up. And we can’t assume that math teaching looks pretty much like what we do… It’s worth exploring.

    Jonathan

  7. Jason Buell says:

    I’ve got 40 math blogs in my reader and I’m not even a math teacher.

    I’m going to disagree with David here though. You can not get better. Some people read and move on, unaffected. Others read and it cripples them with self doubt and anxiety. It’s a thin line I’m constantly straddling.

  8. Persida (iTeach) says:

    I think I will go ahead and agree with both David and Jason.
    If you are willing to be changed and begin reading and exploring with an open mind, you can’t help but be changed by what you read and are exposed to.
    If you approach it all with the same old attitude (and Jackie, you know what I mean when I say that – “these darn kids…”), then nothing you read, no person you’re exposed to, and no call to action will ever move you (and we hope you consider another profession soon).
    You know that you’re going to run into both types of people (and already have). You do what you can with the ones willing to open their minds and rejoice for the students that will be impacted as a result. You hurt for the ones who instead attack you personally. But always remember that those whom you impacted are extremely grateful and know they owe you much appreciation and many thanx ;-)

  9. Jackie says:

    Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts on this. I hope to always feel “brand new” as Anne said. If I start thinking that I know it all or that I have nothing to learn it is time to move on to something different. Yet with all that y’all share and the ways in which you push my thinking, I’m hopeful that won’t happen.

  10. David Cox says:

    Dang, I have to remember to check that “notify me of follow-up comments” box.

    Jason,
    Any idea what the difference is between the teachers who change, those who don’t and those who are crippled by self doubt? Those who got into this gig for summers off have made up their minds and there may not be much hope of change as Persida said. But what of the other two?

  11. I just turned 50, have been out of college for 26 years (BEE), and am back in college to get a MA in secondary mathematics. I read all these blogs and see I have a lot of catching-up to do. I’m pumped, inspired, humbled and skitsophrentic (I’m a math major and spelled it somewhat phonetically).

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