I’ve fallen away for a few days. I watched this video tribute from Heinemann Publishing a week or so ago. It struck me when I heard Max state he was in the “lower” math class at the time. He went on to explain, because when they asked him which level he wanted to be in, the difference was the number of pages in the homework packet each week, he chose “the smaller packet.”
Yesterday, as I sat in a meeting, I voiced a concern that some current students were opting to not take Pre-AP coursework because they don’t want to do more homework. Is that the difference? According to my administrator, yes, students were told there would be more homework. That’s the only difference students “heard” between the course offerings.
Watching Max’s tribute makes this conversation yesterday even more prominent in my mind. I remember the first time I met Max, he looked like a young kid at TMC St. Louis but the words and ideas he shared were from someone who was passionate about math, learning and having a positive impact on education.
Its crazy to think if it had not been for the teacher asking him to participate in the Math Olympiad, would Max have gone through his education thinking he was “no good in math” since his in-depth thinking made him appear “slower / not as smart”? My, oh my. What goodness we all would have missed out on with his posts, resources from The Math Forum, Ignites to engage, inspire and challenge us and Powerful Problem Solving. How many students have missed out because our labels have limited their opportunities?
My question? Are we inadvertently pushing students away from the Pre-AP? My administrator’s answer – no, we’re opening it up, so they can choose to take the those courses. My concern – if all they hear is “more homework” its obvious what some will choose, they are teenagers. So is that language intended to scare them away? I’m standoff on policy that does not support a growth mindset, they feel they are already set up for failure, thus choose not to attempt it.
I hope I’m wrong. In the mean time, I will continue to have conversations and encourage those students to step up to the challenge. So many students do not have advocates to push them, it is our responsibility to help them find their own voice.
Our state Education Commissioner stated he saw it not as achievement gaps, but as opportunity gaps. Now, my challenge is to make sure I am part of providing opportunities to all learners.