Tuesday Teacher Tips: Thinking Ahead

Welcome to the Tuesday Teacher Tips series! Each week we’ll highlight teaching and learning resources, ideas to use in the classroom, as well as things to ponder as you go about your teaching day.

This is a busy time of year. Even through all the craziness of the end of the school year and all of the closing details that it entails, this is the time of year that energizes me. No matter how difficult the year was or what struggles I had, I have hope and excitement of what’s to come next fall.

During the school year, as much as I want to study, read and reflect on my teaching practices, I find that each school day is jam-packed with the day-to-day details, meetings, phone calls, and lesson planning. Even if I go to a really fantastic workshop during the school year, it almost just serves as food for thought on what I’d like to do. I usually have difficulty implementing big changes in my teaching during the school year; by the end of the day I simply run out of time.

For me, the summer is when I really have a chance to think and plan for the upcoming year. This is the time I have to soak in information and thoughtfully plan how to make new changes in my classroom.

This year our school implemented a new math curriculum. It was significantly different in its teaching approach than our previous series. We had training before we started teaching and my grade-level team spent a lot of time talking through the series during the year. But really, that first year it’s all about getting through the curriculum to really know it.

Now that I’ve gone through the entire year, my plan is to take the series home and really study it carefully. Questions I ask myself:

  • What went well?
  • What did I have difficulty with?
  • What units did the students struggle with the most?
  • What materials, experiences and information can I find to round out the curriculum and make it meaningful to my students?
  • What resources do I need to improve my expertise to make sure I’m teaching as well as I can?
  • What information did the manual provide that I didn’t have time to read carefully?

With math as my focus for the summer, I’m on the hunt for good professional resources. Do you have any great resources—books, websites, workshops—that you’d like to share. Email and let me know. I’d love to share what I learn from other teachers.

  • Gayle

    Your blog today could be describing my own experiences! We also implemented a new math scheme and it’s been a tough year trying to implement it. Like you, I’m making math my focus for the summer and have signed up for a Creative Mathematics workshop called ‘Math Camp’ given by Kim Sutton. The math scheme we are now using is still to much pencil and paper and algorithym oriented and this workshop will hopefully help me use more hands on practices to compliment the materials I have to use. Could I ask what new math program your school is using? Thanks for your blog and great ideas. I have really enjoyed all of it over this school year.

  • Lisa W

    Our school implemented Houghton Mifflin Math Expressions. This year was definitely a learning experience for all–teachers and students. This curriculum is much more rigorous than our previous series. We found that the upper grades had a more difficult time with it, just because the kids did not have the background and math knowledge that they will in future years as they go through the program. So classroom teachers were trying to teach the curriculum but also filling in the learning gaps. Thanks for sharing your workshop plans!