When I ask myself, “how do I summarize this year in my mathematics classroom?” I am at a loss of where to start. My initial thought is that, “I taught math,” just like any other year. I thought that what I am doing as a math teacher in my classroom is obvious to everyone. “Doesn’t everyone know what “math classes” look like?” It turns out that it isn’t obvious, and that many aren’t aware of all the things we math teachers do. Besides the notable things this year that were different than the standard year of “math” at West K, (such as the completion of Math Competitions, and the start-up of our “Advanced Math” course), there are so many things that we are doing in math. And it turns out, these things we are doing in math classes, aren’t as obvious as we thought they were. So, I will try to summarize.
This year, we had some insightful professional development opportunities, surrounding 2SLGBTQ+ and anti-racism. You might ask, “How do you integrate 2SLGBTQ+ and anti-racism, into math class?” Well, you don’t explicitly. It is hard to authentically mix something like “Social Justice” into “Simplifying Polynomial Expressions”. But you do it so subtly, that people don’t even recognize you are doing it. It is just “good teaching”.
THIS is how we do it. THIS is how we teach math.
I will always offer extra help. You aren’t sure how to do this? I will give up my lunch for you. You are worth it.
You feel too shy to ask this in the middle of class? I will respond via email at 8:42pm to get to the bottom of this for you. You are always welcome.
Some students are struggling on different levels of the content? I will make 8 different versions of one question, so that EVERYONE will find some kind of success. Because +2 > 0 .
Step one: “Write your name.” I see you. And you tell me which pronoun I should use.
You messed up on this concept? That’s okay. We have until the end of this term to figure it out, and get it in the end. I am on this journey with you.
You can of course re-do this.
You have to stay home to babysit your siblings? That’s okay, I recorded this lesson in anticipation that student’s might need it at another time.
I can see that you are really busy right now, would you like to hand this in next week instead? You know what? Let’s do it together.
I noticed you don’t seem like yourself today, is there something on your mind? (I don’t want to overwhelm you with this if you’re already dealing with something. Give yourself a break.)
You are the first person in your family to take this course? You don’t have any support at home on this? That’s okay, I am CONFIDENT that if you keep it up, you will be able to do this.
Let’s schedule a jam session.
If you pick up the pencil, I am confident you’ve already done something right.
You’re stressed out about this test? Why don’t we do an interview instead?
That’s okay, here, have my calculator. (Seriously, you can take it home.)
Let’s all get up, grab a partner, and do it together.
You missed half of your math class last year? Let’s fill that gap. Where do I meet you? Halfway? ¾’s ? 0.666…?
You need me to teach half the kids at home, and half the kids in the room at the same time? Let me just rig up two monitors, a document camera, a webcam, speakers, and a live meeting daily, for every class, to make sure everyone gets access and opportunity to learn. (Or at least knows there is someone waiting for them on the other side, curious about how they’re doing today.)
You want some extra review before your provincial exam? How about we schedule a Saturday afternoon? Sign up over here!
-Vanessa (She/Her), on behalf of the mathematics department