Why I Choose to Continue Growing… #MTBoS

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This girl.

She’s the reason I choose to challenge myself to step outside my comfort zone and try new things, learn new things, find more interesting ways of presenting what Dan Meyer tagged  as “a product we’re trying to sell that students do not want to buy.”

Everyone in the classroom has different things that drive them.  I always wanted to be a teacher so I could help students understand math.  When my daughter started school, my viewpoint changed because she’s an out of the box thinker, creative and loves music.  I wanted students to see connections and the bigger picture and the beauty beyond the procedures.  I wanted them to feel challenged but also heard when they saw things differently.  Its hard breaking the traditional mold I was raised on in math class.

Just because I have different goals as a teacher does not make me better, nor inferior to other teachers.  Just because I’m not up to par on the latest and greatest classroom craze does not mean I’m inadequate.  I attempt to be the teacher I want my own daughter to have.  As teachers we have somebody’s child sitting before us.   I want their time to be purposeful and challenging.  I want them to leave my classroom with a tired brain, but a smile on their face because of what they accomplished.  I want to be the best version of me because I want my daughter’s teachers to be the best version of themselves for her.

How do I know what to change?  How to change it?   How do I know it will impact their learning?  Will that impact be a positive one?  That’s another post, on another day.

Its obvious each new class has different needs, prior knowledge/experiences and varied levels of effort.  Before MTBOS, I’d find articles, often from NCTM MT that helped me ponder ways to present topics differently.  Conferences were often a well of great ideas I could take back to my classroom.

But how do I decide what to use?  How do I know what will work?  Its often been trial and error.  Try it.  Reflect.  Adjust.  Try it again until it feels right and gets the results I’m looking for.  Action research at its best, right in the middle of my classroom.  What works for one group of students is not guaranteed to work for another group.  And that’s okay.  What works for one teacher may not work for another teacher’s style.  And that’s okay too.

I love #MTBOS because its a safe spot for me to be me, imperfect, not knowing how to do something… I am allowed to ask questions, offer ideas without fear – because I value the opinions of those I interact with.  They help me learn, our conversations allow me to process ideas and come up with ways of accomplishing the challenge before me.  They don’t judge me for not knowing something or how to do a certain thing.  Or if they do, I’ll never know it – and that’s okay.  When I make a statement that’s incorrect, its not the only time they offer me feedback – just to prove I’m wrong or made a mistake – they offer me feedback whether its good/bad/ugly.

I’m allowed to be vulnerable, not have all the right answers.  Its the safest learning environment I know for me. I can brainstorm, be creative, offer off the wall answers.  I am challenged to think, held accountable by peers and encouraged to ask questions of which I don’t know the answer to.  I leave with my brain hurting, and a smile on my face.  Its available 24/7/365 whenever I choose to visit, whenever I need to visit.  Its how I envision my own classroom being…when I finally get it right.

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