I’ve been working with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) long before they were adopted. As Missouri K – 12 Director of Mathematics, an important part of my job was to review the early draft version, and provide feedback representing Missouri’s students and teachers.
With each updated version, there were anticipated changes. But, the one thing that resonated with me during all the reviews and different versions was the potential positive impact the Standards would have on the teaching and learning of mathematics. And despite all the Common Core unrest going on today, I still believe they’re the best thing that’s ever happened to math education!
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) set the stage for the CCSSM with the Curriculum and Evaluation Standards (1989) and the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (2000). These documents as well as Adding it Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics(National Research Council, 2001) provided the framework for both the rich content standards and practices that support the conceptual understanding of mathematics.
Since the adoption of the CCSSM, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in national training and have led numerous state trainings. As you’re reading this blog, I’m on my way to Singapore to serve as the lead instructor for the CCSSM Operations and Algebraic Thinking (K – 8) Institute for Math Specialists in International Schools (MSIS) that is convening in Singapore. I’m both honored and humbled by this opportunity!
In planning for the trip and training, I’ve been reminded again and again about the challenges of being a teacher. Bennett and Rollheiser (Beyond Monet, 2001) best describe teaching as one of the most complex, demanding, and important professions in the world – a profession where change emerges in the blink of an eye. They note that teachers have an understanding of how students learn and an instructional repertoire that allows them to respond meaningfully to what is known about how and what students must learn.
The overall goal for this training a continent away is to share what I know and have learned about the CCSSM is to help these teachers better understand the CCSSM content and practice standards. But to truly impact instruction and learning must go beyond teacher understanding of the Standards. Teachers have to be able to convey the math concepts, skills and practices to their students in various ways if students are to learn and understand the mathematics.
The late Lola May, Past President of NCTM and a pioneer in mathematics education, once said:
“There are three things to remember when teaching: know your stuff; know whom you are stuffing; and then stuff them elegantly.”
With that in mind, my overall goals and purpose for the training is that teachers will leave with three things:
- A greater understanding and knowledge of the CCSSM
- An increased knowledge of how students learn
- Effective teaching strategies and activities that help ALL students learn and understand mathematics
I’ve learned so very much in planning for this experience! But I also know from past experience, there’s much I can learn from this group. I’ll be sharing more about the trip and the experience in future blogs, so stay tuned!
In the meantime, let’s all do what we can to achieve these three goals on a daily basis. Not only will it help your students better understand and learn the mathematics, it will help prepare them for upcoming assessments! Start today by signing up for your free LearnBop trial.
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