Where Are You?

As an instructional coach, I would travel from school to school working with different teachers every week. While I would visit the same sites repeatedly, I would use my navigation system to find them initially. After a couple of months though, I noticed that I still needed directions to get to some of the same schools I had gone to several times. I thought this was silly of me, but then I started to wonder why this was happening.

It turns out that I wasn’t really paying attention to what was happening, or even attending to what was around me. I began to relate this to teaching. If we simply give students step-by-step instructions and they just follow along, without attending to details such as why they’re doing those steps and why they work, they will likely never become independent in mathematical thinking.

This led me to think about other GPS-type relationships in teaching and I had a major shift in how I think about what we do when we teach children.

Imagine you are giving someone directions to where you are. The first question you would need to ask them is: where are you? That is the only way you will be able to help them. If your directions do not begin at the place where they are at, they will have to first find their own way to your starting point or some other point within your directions.

If we are hoping to help our children come to a destination in knowledge, shouldn’t our first question about them be the same? Where are you? Where can we start? This information can lead a teacher into developing lessons that meet a student where they are rather than hoping they will be able to find a point along the path that they can jump in and get on course. As I have been working with students at AIMS, this point has become more and more real to me. How do you as a teacher find ways to see where your students are before working with them?



Our early math team is excited to be engaging with preschool teachers in thinking together about mathematics teaching and learning in preschool classrooms. One of the ways we have structured our work together is through the lens of partnership. Think for a moment about what it means to work as a partner. What comes to… Continue Reading

What Part Does Technology have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part IV)

In the final installment of my blog series concerning education and technology, I would like to look ahead at the new technology that is currently attracting interest within educational and academic research. As a reminder, this series stems from the Jean Piaget Society conference I attended which had the theme “Technology and Human Development.” In… Continue Reading

You Never Know When

A teachable moment can be thought of as a quick moment in time when a student’s interest in a specific subject is at its highest, usually because of a conversation or immersion in a situation that brings on curiosity. Who knows when one might occur in your classroom? I was first introduced to the idea… Continue Reading

Christian – Part 2

In my previous blog I introduced Christian. He had a prescribed method for solving addition tasks, but many times his answers were not accurate. In our second session with Christian our primary goal was for him to use a counting strategy when adding two numbers. We began by presenting cards to him with the numerals… Continue Reading

Listening to Their Stories

As my other colleagues have mentioned, it was a privilege to present to over 300 preschool teachers last month. Even though we each prepared our individual sessions, it was truly a collaborative effort. My specific presentation was on the topic of mathematical play, but I was also encouraged to share a portion of my own… Continue Reading

Real Life Math Really Does Happen

John Urschel is is an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens. He is also currently pursuing his doctorate in applied mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In a recent commentary in Education Week he said, “In some sense, everybody has to become a mathematician. We all face problems that require mathematical concepts. The better… Continue Reading