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!


  1. Hi Anna.

    I think it’s great that you met anyway. I think you need to think about how to make sure people want to attend. It’s after school, so everyone is understandably tired, but if you serve snacks and make the promise of doing math together (which I would think that all math teachers would enjoy) then people will be excited to attend. And while your agenda is worthwhile, you must remember to make time to do a math problem together. That is the reason you decided to meet—to create a learning community, which means you’re going to learn from each other as you engage in math problems. The agenda you’ve set sounds like a meeting agenda, not a learning agenda. I’m happy that you’re going to make doing math together the priority for the next meeting.

    I think if you just focus on doing math problems and leave the curriculum and data stuff for a different time, it’ll be a fun experience and people will want to attend. Think about how much fun you have had in the Integrated courses, simply doing math together with your cohort? That’s what you want to create for your colleagues. And once you’ve done this a few times, then they can choose the problems to bring to the group. That would address your concern about everyone contributing. What do you think?

  2. It was interesting that you thought you might be doing too much during your meeting - I actually thought - wow that's a lot of stuff on your agenda. I know that getting together is not easy to do and there is just some business you just have to take care of. Once this is out of the way I think you can get into doing math together. Once this happens I think the other teachers will be hooked. It is not a typical format for a meeting but once they experience it, it will become more of a focus.