Thursday, January 12, 2012

Not giving them the answer

The 7th grade math teacher and I co-coach our school's math club after school.  Today, as we were doing math problems together with our scholars, as a group, she paid me one of the nicest complements I have ever received.  She said "You are so good at not giving them the answer and asking them questions so that they can get to the answer on their own."  

What am I learning about collaboration?
I am actually beginning to believe that the difference between being a good math teacher and a great math teacher is more than just meeting frequently to talk about "teacher things."  That stuff is necessary and important, don't get me wrong.  But I am starting to really think that doing math with others is an important and necessary part of being a professional in math education.  


  1. I agree that doing math together in conjunction with the "teacher things" can be the recipe for great teaching! The grade 5 Math teacher and I recently had a similar experience. She was going to teach transformations on a coordinate grid. We began to explore the problems with different materials and began to formulate questions that we would not have thought of before. It was a great feeling. I love hearing about your realizations!

  2. Anna, I agree with Maureen—I love reading the blue writing…so thoughtful and insightful and definitely providing data for your question.

    I could hear your pride at your colleague’s compliment! Do you think the work you’re doing at Bank Street, specifically in the integrated courses, is also nurturing this perspective? You’re not just grad students doing work in a course—you’re colleagues learning from one another, no?

  3. ..."doing math with others is an important and necessary part of being a professional in math education."

    Anna, I'm wondering if you could tease this out a little bit more (unless I'm jumping ahead to your conclusions!) I think that we can just truck along teaching teaching teaching without taking steps back to be the learner again... What is it about doing math with others that you think impacts you as a professional?
    Is it the things you learn from doing math that you bring into your classroom? Whether it is process or content?
    Do you think it is the way that doing math together impacts professional relationships with your coworkers that is so important?
    Does doing math remind you why you teach it? Or is it some other reason?