Class PhilosophyWe use a very unique approach to math on Team 1. This system is organized around several core beliefs that I hold regarding education. Listed below are these principles and the implications that each has for this class. The “Class Structure” link on the left provides a few more details about what my class looks like.
Principle #1: All students can learn and do math.
- Many students struggle with Algebra and some of the other concepts we explore in this class. However, struggling is not the same as failing. Many times students get discouraged because they see their classmates moving on. They quickly and incorrectly conclude that they just must not be good at math. In my class, students are given the time and opportunities they need to fully master the concepts we are studying. While we do have time constraints placed on us, I will do all I can to ensure that students master each topic we study.
Principle #2: Different students learn math at different rates and in different ways.
- While some students struggle with math, it is also true that some students pick up on math very quickly. In my class, technology is utilized to allow students to customize the pace of their own learning. Mastery and a deep level of understanding is still required, but students who can work more quickly than their classmates are more than welcome to do so. For those students who learn better from a more traditional and direct approach, we offer that as well. One of my main goals for the class is to help students to better understand how they learn best.
Principle #3: Each student deserves individual attention.
- The class should fit the student, not the other way around. I utilize a mastery-based approach to learning with optional flipped learning elements in my class so that I can focus my energy on individual and small group instruction during the 50 minutes that I have your child in class. This means that I record myself providing a brief lesson that gives your child the basics they will need to begin exploring each new topic as an option for moving forward on their own. Once they take notes on the video (housed in Canvas), they are then able to practice a few of the things they watched. This allows them to engage the concept at a much deeper level when they are in class, and problem solving rather than procedures becomes of the focus of the learning. I also offer brief, discussion-based lessons for those students who learn best in person.
Principle #4: Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.
- Rather than having students complete a larger number of problems for their homework, each set of problems is smaller than usual so that students can focus on doing the problems correctly. If a student does a problem incorrectly, they are given feedback as to why they missed it and then they are asked to do the problem again. The student is only allowed to move on once they have mastered every problem in that set. In addition, tests and quizzes are not given on set days in this class. Each student takes these assessments when they demonstrate that they are ready. There are many options for how you can learn the material. Demonstrating mastery on each target is not optional.
Principle #5: Students learn best when they are given constant and timely feedback.
- I do my very best to make sure that when a student turns in an assignment, it is returned either by the end of the school day or at the very start of class the next day. I also spend my class time with students guiding them on their current tasks. I make it my goal to meet with each student at least once a day. Just as a pilot must constantly be checking their gauges to ensure that the plane is on the right track, so too should a student receive constant feedback from their teacher on their learning.
Principle #6: Students learn best when they are stakeholders in the learning process.
- Research has shown us time and time again that active learning gives students a much greater chance at retention and learning than passive learning. When students are given the chance to advocate for themselves, help their classmates, and set their own pace for learning achievement rises dramatically. Student in my class engage in regular reflection on their learning, goal-setting for each unit, and time management practices that help them to remain and at and even exceed the minimum pace for the class.
Principle #7: Math is not real until it is applied in the real world.
- The goal of this class is not to show students a series of tricks to be memorized. Using the mastery approach allows students to learn the basic material at home so that they can work together and with me as they encounter and master the application of these concepts.The following people have had and continue to have an enormous influence on me as I work to become a better teacher:
- Carol Dweck - Growth Mindset
- Rick Wormelli - Assessment and mastery-based learning
- Jo Boaler - Mathematical Mindsets
- Anders Ericsson - Deliberate Practice
- John Hattie - Visible Learning
- Daniel Pink - Motivation
- Past students and parents who have shared their ideas for improvement.