Find out if I figured out how to blog(ish)! My Power of Three Reflection.

I just realized that this, in fact, is my SECOND post. People, this is why I gave myself a 3 out of 10 on the blogging proficiency front during yesterday twitter chat T-T Well, without further ado, I present to you, my second post!

Reflections from our first face to face:
I hadn’t the faintest idea what to expect from the first face to face meeting. It can be really healthy to go into something without any expectations though. There was no priming with the day’s full schedule e-mailed in advance and so I was made more open to the experiences of the day than I might have otherwise been. I imagine now this was done intentionally–if it wasn’t, well done and keep the new recruits on their toes next year too!

There were a few things that made a big impact on me:

  • Within the first half hour of arriving at York School, I had conversations with so many people that I can barely count them on both my hands. Everyone, both new and returning, was incredibly warm and inviting. You could tell that there was this excitement in the air for learning and collaborating. It was palpable.
  • Facilitators, coaches and mentors, you are all amazing. For every question or challenge, someone had an answer or could direct me to someone who did, zero to sixty in 2.5 seconds.
  • You guys weren’t lying about snacks, coffee and tea galore. It was a bit of a slow morning for me, but being able to caffeinate and carb-load all day really helped keep me in the game. 

A couple suggestions for improvement:

  • I would love a re-usable name tag for all the face to face sessions. That would really help out with that one or two “heyyyy youuu” scenarios.
  • A few more 5 minutes breathers between activities would be nice. I drink A LOT of water, if you get what I mean 😉
  • The large group discussion (based on how long we’ve been teaching and age) were great ideas, with a lot of incredible conversation. However, I had a lot of trouble hearing everyone and think that creating smaller sub-groups for easier conversation might be worth trying next year.

Now, for the Power of Three:
I believe the three most urgent needs for my students are the following:

  1. Learning to work collaboratively
  2. Being resilient
  3. Developing problem-solving, application, critical thinking skills

There has been a lot of conversation with my fellow math teachers. Formal interviews with students have not yet been completed. Up to this point, these are my 3 top insights:

  1. Teachers find that using the whiteboards regularly is pretty easy. Depending on how one wants to use them, incorporating white boards can be very low effort, easy to just drop into a class and flexible
  2. After visiting teachers in the classroom and conferencing with them, it seems that my original vision of a 1:1 ratio of socratic method vs. inquiry and problem-based teaching was unrealistic. For both teachers and students alike, re-thinking how we teach and learn, then also implementing that, needs to be rolled in incrementally. We also need to leave a lot of room for input, more re-thinking, and revision.
  3. Students are starting to buy-in and enjoy using the whiteboards as a way to work collaboratively. They’re starting to ask for it in class as a way to break the class up and change pace. Though, there has been some frustration voiced at not being able to copy everything from the whiteboards down in their notes. I might need to be clearer about when it is and isn’t necessary to have a hard copy of it.

I’m looking forward to finishing up formal interviews with students to get more of their input on where they’d like to see collaborative work and inquiry learning go!

4 Comments

  1. I can’t believe it happened again… I just commented on @acampbellrogers ‘s post that I couldn’t believe that she and @sletham ‘s main foci (impromptu math term, yes!) were almost identical, and now it’s happened again.

    2 of @sletham ‘s 3 student needs were collaboration and resiliency. @acampbellrogers is working on perseverance and resiliency also. Try to find time this Saturday to share your experiences.

    Also, @jgravel ‘s (current coach) action plan from last year centered around exactly what you are saying re: white boards. The links to her posts from last year are below.

    As for problem-solving and critical thinking, many former participants have worked on this in the past. Below are links to former cohort action plans.

    I’m looking forward to seeing some of the different strategies you try this year, as I plan to “borrow” the best ones 🙂

    Feel free to reach out anytime if you need a sounding board to bounce idea off of. See you Saturday!

    https://cohort21.com/jengravel/2018/11/16/tracking-math-learning-in-group-settings-and-using-white-boards/

    https://cohort21.com/jengravel/

    Old AP’s:

    https://cohort21.com/action-plans/2018-19-action-plans/

    https://cohort21.com/action-plans/2017-18-action-plans/

    https://cohort21.com/action-plans/2016-17-action-plans/

    etc.

    Reply

    1. Hi Michael, thanks so much for your comment! @sletham and I work at the same school and together in the math department. She and I have talked at length about re-thinking our teaching and student learning. I’m not surprised that she and I are aligned in terms of what we feel are students’ greatest needs! But your bringing this up does make me think that Steph and I need to talk more regularly about our progress as we continue in this professional development. @acampbellrogers , let’s definitely find time on Saturday to talk more about our action plans!

      I had a great conversation with @jgravel at the first face-to-face to discuss use of whiteboards as a medium for collaboration, risk-taking, normalizing mistakes and problem-solving. There are a few activities/strategies that I’ve already tried to promote problem-solving and critical thinking in my grade 12 data management classes. Where I struggle most is implementing true inquiry for my 11 Fucntions and Applications class. I’d love to share what I’ve done and talk to you in person for your two cents on implementing inquiry with a class that has a wide range of abilities.

      Thank you for the links. I will definitely check them out tonight!

      Best,
      Esther

      Reply

  2. Esther,
    Duly noted about your feedback – thanks for the kind words and the recommendations! @lmcbeth @adamcaplan let’s take note of this on Saturday!

    I am interested in your comment: “After visiting teachers in the classroom and conferencing with them, it seems that my original vision of a 1:1 ratio of socratic method vs. inquiry and problem-based teaching was unrealistic. For both teachers and students alike, re-thinking how we teach and learn, then also implementing that, needs to be rolled in incrementally. We also need to leave a lot of room for input, more re-thinking, and revision.”

    You may have bitten off more than you can chew here, but it is NOT unrealistic to make a start towards this through small experiments. If you could design a small experiment to test this out, what would it look like?

    Thanks and see you soon,
    Garth.

    Reply

    1. Hi Garth, thanks so much for your comments!

      After discussion with teachers in math department, we collectively decided to roll out slowly. Try to incorporate at least one strategy or activity per unit that has problem solving or critical thinking at the forefront. A far as experimentation goes, teachers have been rolling in some really interesting activities that challenge students to put their critical thinking caps on and problem solve. What you’ve made me realize though is that it would be really useful to collect some concrete data on this.
      -How often are teachers feeling they can implement problem-solving/inquiry activities and strategies?
      -What does this look like for everyone?
      -What do they feel is the right ratio of socratic vs. pbl?
      -What was student reaction to these?
      -How did teachers assess (both formatively or informally) student ability to problem-solve and think critically?
      I’m thinking google form could do the trick 🙂 Are there any other questions that you think I could add?

      Best,
      Esther

      Reply

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