Bottom line, I am a math geek. Not your normal kind of math geek, but math geek nonetheless. I carry dominoes in my purse. I also carry a ten frame and, although I’m not sure why, I’ve got unifix cubes in my pocket. Ok, so unless you are a math teacher or student, you may not know why that qualifies me as a math geek. Let me assure you, all my teacher friends say it’s so.
I’ve been teaching for 11 years. Throughout those 11 years I’ve taught grades K through 2 and worked for 2 years as a special education teacher. Most of my time has been spent as a first grade teacher and most recently I’ve moved into the world of math intervention and am working as a math coach in our district.
During the summer of 2012 I had a career changing experience. I attended a week long course all about the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Specifically, an entire week of learning just about operations and algebraic thinking in grades K through 2. The thing about these standards is that they’re dense. I mean really dense. Lots of people say, “Oh, the standards? I know them.” Don’t believe them! To know the standards is to study them, study the standards for previous and future grades. Then, you have to study the standards in the same cluster, or group, and in the same domain. Then you have to read the accompanying literature about what the authors intended for the standards. I’ve never spent such an extensive amount of time exploring such a small piece of one of many subjects I am tasked with teaching. It was amazing, insightful and motivating. I developed a hunger for learning more about the coherence of math concepts and standards.
I spent the next year teaching math with this new lens and sharing these ideas with my colleagues. During the summer of 2013, I facilitated the same module that impacted my teaching so significantly. I also branched out and took a class intended for teachers in grade 3 through 5. You know, just for fun. I have continued to facilitate the same module and every time my understanding gets deeper and my thinking becomes more global.
Professionally, I live, breathe and sometimes eat math. Of course, it spills into my home life. I try to talk to my husband about math but he’s not having it. So, I’ve turned to my 6 year old. She proudly tells folks her mom is a math coach and is showing beautifully flexible thinking about numbers.
I am working on my masters in teaching, learning and assessing. I will spend the next 18 months focusing on word problem instruction because of the complexities involved and the importance of the content.
There are certainly those who are more highly trained with more experience. That being said, I think I have the ability to help families work on math at home. I see it as a need and a necessity. Let’s do this together!