NCSM Reflections

I’m in a Professional “happy place”. I am attending the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) conference in San Antonio, TX. Where do I start, and how do I ingest and digest all of the great sessions that I have attended? Being an attendee, I try to stay focused on what I have come for and what motivates me as a professional – becoming a better presenter of powerful, active, and engaged professional learning (PL). As I begin to debrief, I want to share and collaborate with you on what is resonating with me while I am here…

My big picture from this conference so far is:

  • First, we are in this profession to help students achieve and our educational roles are important.
  • Second, while students are embarking on the journey of learning math content, we need to always remember that this not a race.
  • Third, we need to engage students in intentional math talk.

All of these are simple, and yet complex.  When I wrap these three thoughts up and place them into my professional toolbox, I cannot help but think about how I can incorporate them into my work.  I look forward to making adjustments so that the AIMS PL we facilitate embraces these conference big picture ideas.

Helping students achieve is what we sign up for when we become teachers. Teachers know they will be responsible for teaching the curriculum and delivering high quality instruction to accommodate the standards, all the while facilitating assessments to ensure that learning has happened. To move teachers to improve their practice in any of these areas, teachers will need well thought out help (PL) to implement that change. I suggest giving participants a “Mindset Scan” before beginning the PL program.  Embarking on a new math initiative in a school system should be started with an open mind, a growth mindset, and a positive attitude. If you have a general feeling of where teachers’ beliefs are before you begin, then you can help them to embrace change.

Why have we always thought of learning mathematics content as a race? If only we can slow down our teaching so students are allowed to build upon previously laid foundations, then they will help our students to go further. I will strive to find additional ways to help math educators achieve this type of instruction in their teaching – not obsessing with the speed in which students do math, but making a shift to paying attention to strategies students are using to solve their mathematics. If students are given the time to make connections between representations, symbols, and vocabulary, they will better understand the content.

Teachers are being asked to have intentional mathematics discussions with their students. It’s a powerful exercise for teachers to see how little they can talk to their students.  Invite them to talk with their students. Encourage them to ask students to “show your thinking”. This one statement may just be the catalyst for intentional classroom mathematics discussions that can totally turn around a mathematics classroom.

I hope that you have taken the time to debrief and share what resonated with you after attending a conference. Let me know what triggers your professional lifelong learning button.

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