Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Making time for Math

The math team met again this evening.  Like last time, I set up an agenda on Google Docs and encouraged the other math teachers to add on to it.  This time, however, I set aside the first half of the meeting to do some math together.  I asked everyone to bring their laptops, so that I could introduce them to the Peg Puzzle (  When we started, I directed everyone to NLVM website and asked them to play around for a bit, and then suggested that we come back together and share what we learned....

(To be continued...)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Setting up Meeting #2

I sent out an email earlier this afternoon, asking our JBA math team when the next availble date to meet that works for everyone is.  Because of PDs and Thanksgiving, I suggested Monday, November 21st or Wednesday the 30th, but opened it up to the group.  Within an hour, the AP, ICT teacher, and 6th grade teacher got back to me!  This was encouraging!

It looks like we may have a Faculty meeting on Monday the 21st, so I asked the AP if we could possibly have that time to meet and I am waiting to hear back from her.  If not, it looks like Wednesday the 30th will be our 2nd meeting.  I have already revised the agenda on Google Docs slightly to reflect this.

What am I learning about collaboration?
The feeling that I get from my colleagues is that they do want to meet and want to collaborate, but that isn't always easy.  We all take our job and responsibilities very seriously and teaching comes first.  I completely agree, and hope that future meetings can tie into what we are teaching.  Again, I want these meetings to be practical and as useful for my colleagues and I as possible.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Minor Setback

Unfortunately, at the last minute, the math team meeting that we were supposed to have today, didn't happen.  The 6th grade teacher had a personal reason, the ICT teacher had an after school club, and the AP was called into a meeting.  The 7th grade teacher and I debated whether or not to meet "officially" and thought it would be best to reschedule for a date when the whole team could meet.

I was a little disappointed, but I understand that things do come up and that it's important to be flexible.  So far I haven't gotten the vibe from my colleagues that they don't want to be these meetings to happen, so I will be optimistic that this is just a minor temporary setback.

In the meantime, I created the agenda so that when we do meet, our meetings would have a focus.  Nobody else has added to the agenda specifically, but the 6th grade teacher did add a document to our Google Collection.

The good news is that the 6th grade teacher, ICT teacher, and AP said that they were glad that they didn't miss anything, which makes me feel like they want to be a part of these meetings also.  I just don't want our group to slowly happen less frequently as the school year goes by.

What am I learning about collaboration?
It's not easy to get, even a well-meaning group of people, together.  I am a little disappointed, but am still looking at this as only a minor set back.  It has been a crazy week at JBA with grades being due, Benchmark Assessments, and the schedule changing for the new marking period.  I will be sure to send out an email asking for the next best available dates for people so that we can get our math team back on focus.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Our First Meeting

So we just had our first math team meeting.  Originally we planned to meet for an hour, but ended up meeting for an hour and a half after school, in my classroom.  The 6th grade math teacher, assistant principal, and I (and briefly our ICT teacher) were the only ones in attendance.  The 7th grade teacher was unable to make it, and at the last minute the ICT teacher was unable to either.  The three us us decided to meet either way and take notes on our Google Doc so that we could share it with the others.

Our agenda consisted of:

  • Discussing Math Portfolios (the principal had asked the AP to talk to us about this)
  • Teaching strategies that should be used across all grades so they are ready for Algebra I
  • What are our department goals?
  • Where are we now?  Where do we want to be?
  • Looking at our data?
  • How often do we want to meet? 
Together the three of us went though each of these points and discussed our responses.  We had the agenda up on the Smart Board and as we collaborated, we added to the document.  For each of the points, we discussed next steps.  This was important to me because (1) we had an "official" working document from our meeting, and (2) our next steps were practical things that we would bring or do during our next meeting.  (I can attach our "final" agenda in another post.)  

We decided that Wednesdays overall seemed to work best for everyone, and meeting every other week would be a good start for us.  Due to upcoming PDs, we decided to meet the following Wednesday, November 9th.

What am I learning about collaboration?
It feel really good to actually get the chance to meet.  I think our agenda also helped to keep us focused, so that we didn't get off topic.  We had specific goals to accomplish and we were able to speak about all of them.  For our next meeting, in addition to addressing our next steps, I want to actually do some math with my colleagues.  Using the "Teaching Math in the Middle School" article about Teaching Circles, I have decided to use the Frog and Toad problem.  I even found a website that we can all go do.

I am a little worried that we might be trying to do too much during our meetings.  Personally I would rather do less deeply, than try to cover too much, however I want everyone to feel like they are contributing to these meetings, and it's not just me.  I think the Google Doc agendas that everyone can add too will help with that.

Looking forward to our meeting next week!