We just celebrated Christmas and in one week, we will turn the calendar to a new year. Between December 26 and December 31, I will begin mulling over what I declare as my 2017 resolutions. My personal goals have been constant for the past score of years and I can rattle them off like a string of number words:
- Lose a pound a month (abandoned by Valentine’s Day).
- Exercise at least three times a week. (This one I may actually succeed in.)
- Foster my relationship with God.
- Find the good in everything even if it takes weeks to figure out what the good is.
My professional goals, however, have varied on an annual basis, depending on my role and responsibilities. At the AIMS Center for Math and Science education, our early learning math team is designing and implementing a four-step process to change children’s academic trajectories by improving the math school readiness skills of young children. As mentioned in an earlier blog, early math skills are two times as likely to improve reading skills than just early literacy skills alone. As a result, our team is committed to the cycle of: observing children – creating and trying out tasks – translating this for teachers – supporting teachers as they implement.
Since October 2015, we have been observing 3-5 year olds at two local Head Start preschool sites and we are constantly re-enacting the research we are reading for our own edification. Now our team is beginning to create tasks that we hope will assist children in scaffolding, then elevating, their skillsets in the early math progression. Our last step in the process will be actually working with teachers for classroom implementation as a culmination of our cycle. I am excited about the last step, since it has the power to change the current practice of math instruction in the early learning classroom. We have hope that the translated research and the tasks that are created will augment teachers’ math beliefs, knowledge, and practice.
At a recent visit to our Center, researcher and author, Dr. Les Steffe stated, “The goal is to have the teacher understand their own thinking, then the child’s, regarding math.” I can attest that early learning teachers are self-directed and desire to learn more to improve their skills to benefit the children in their programs. As a result, I resolve to strive for the following professional goals:
- To embrace the four tenets listed below as we continue to delve into the research and to share with the early learning community so they will also seek to:
- Have a solid grasp of pre-k mathematical knowledge;
- Build on children’s mathematical understanding;
- Know where children are developmentally; and
- Know the resources.
- Be comfortable to ask the “why” question that is often found in the research.
- Embrace that there will be days of not knowing and to persevere.
After all, isn’t that what we want to model for our children? I invite you to join me to “Do the math” and make a positive difference in 2017.