Math is Figure-Out-Able with Pam Harris

Ep 12: Top 3 Things to Start the Year: Know Your Beliefs

September 08, 2020 Pam Harris Episode 12
Math is Figure-Out-Able with Pam Harris
Ep 12: Top 3 Things to Start the Year: Know Your Beliefs
Chapters
Math is Figure-Out-Able with Pam Harris
Ep 12: Top 3 Things to Start the Year: Know Your Beliefs
Sep 08, 2020 Episode 12
Pam Harris

As Pam and Kim wrap up their series on how to start the school year right, they encourage staying true to your beliefs as a math teacher. When making decisions in your classroom, there is power in consistency. They discuss how they approach analyzing and implementing other's ideas into their teaching practice, without giving up on their integrity.

Talking Points:

  • One meaning for having integrity in your teaching
  • How intentional use of worksheets & resources can illustrate your teaching beliefs
  • Determine your system of beliefs 

Transcript HERE

Show Notes Transcript

As Pam and Kim wrap up their series on how to start the school year right, they encourage staying true to your beliefs as a math teacher. When making decisions in your classroom, there is power in consistency. They discuss how they approach analyzing and implementing other's ideas into their teaching practice, without giving up on their integrity.

Talking Points:

  • One meaning for having integrity in your teaching
  • How intentional use of worksheets & resources can illustrate your teaching beliefs
  • Determine your system of beliefs 

Transcript HERE

Pam Harris :

Hey fellow mathematicians. Welcome to the podcast where math is Figure-Out-Able. I'm Pam.

Kim Montague :

And I'm Kim.

Pam Harris :

And we answer the question, if not algorithms, then what? Y'all we're so excited about the response to the podcast. It has really taken off, and frankly we're kind of surprised with how well it's doing. Thank you, everyone for listening. We appreciate it. All right, we asked you guys to share with us a mathy person in your life. We have heard from several of you who have parents that were your influences. So we've decided to dedicate an entire Podcast episode to things parents can do with their kids. How you can help your kids be more mathy so tell your parent friends to get ready for a how to help your kids be mathy podcast coming soon.

Kim Montague :

It's gonna be so great. So listeners, welcome to the third part of the series The top three things to start the year. During the first week we talked about helping students feel seen, acknowledged, and valued by learning and using their names. So important. Yeah. And then we shared about how we can use lesson types, even if we're teaching remotely to build a community of learners. This week, we're going to talk about the importance of having your vision about teaching and learning mathematics solidified, so that everything that you do and say fits together. Pam, in an earlier episode, you shared some of your beliefs about teaching and learning. And you said that teaching was about relationships, that everyone can learn more real math than fake math. And that math is not about memorizing algorithms, but about thinking and reasoning. Let me ask you this. How are you able to get to a point where you knew and could talk about who you wanted to be as a math teacher?

Pam Harris :

Yeah, I appreciate you asking that. So I want to start off with two brief stories. when I very first got my very first teaching gig. I was hired by a gentleman by the name of Scott Hendrickson. He was the math department chair he taught calculus in school. And he ran the math department and I found him fascinating. And the best word that I have to describe Scott is integrity. And what I mean by that is everything he did fit, like kids could never poke holes in his discipline, in his grading system, and the way that he taught because it all matched up, it all fit together. He wasn't punitive, everything was more based on like opportunity to learn. It wasn't about, I've caught you doing something! No, it was really much more about he cared and kids could feel that in everything he did and said in the way that he set things up. And so there was just really the sense of that he cared about the students and if they cared, then they would work together and they would they would all make it work. It was kind of like a Mr. Rogers guy kind of nerdy, assuming down to earth, but really ironically or Interestingly, everybody respected him like the different cliques in the school all treated him with so much respect. I've never seen it before or since it was an amazing thing. But I really felt like it was because he just had so much integrity with everything that he did. I've never seen that number of AP Calculus kids in a school. It was unreal, the calculus program that he ran and the scores that he got kids, kids were succeeding and feeling really, really good about how well they were mathematizing then. It was cool in that school to be in higher math. And so from from looking at that I was able to sort of figure out ways to make my system mesh to make the way that I taught have more integrity, I was able to think through systems and structures in the way that I set up my classroom management and grading and just the whole ball of wax to where it fit me and that I felt like I could have integrity with the way that I taught and that kids really felt like things were fair. And I really liked the fact that my reputation around the school became one, that I was really tough, but that I was fair, and that students would kind of come in with almost a little bit shaken in their boots. And then within a couple months, they would be like, you know what, you're, you're actually really cool. Like, why do you come off so hard nose at the beginning, and I just smile a little bit. And it was a way for me to kind of make sure that things just like fit together.

Kim Montague :

How cool to have such an early mentor. And I feel like I've even heard you talk about him when you decided on grading policies for your university classes.

Pam Harris :

Yeah, absolutely. He still influences the way that I do things today. If I ever have a question, I often can just sort of think about what what Scott do? You know, like, how would he handle the situation really, really grateful for him.

Kim Montague :

That's really cool.

Pam Harris :

So another quick story. When I was a high school math teacher, and then my kids started going to school and I dove into the world of research about how we could teach elementary math better and when I did, I read a lot of Marilyn Burns and Investigations of Data, Number, and Space and Young Mathematicians at Work and, and I noticed that as I traveled around the country and talked about Building Powerful Numeracy, I would then see things people would do with like investigations and I would see them sort of miss - I'd be like, wait, what Wait, what do you what do you do? Like, they would almost misread the intent of the task or they, I would sort of notice how they would use graphing calculators. And I was like, how are you? I would kind of cocked my head and raised my eyebrows. How could these really good teachers be using these really good materials, but kind of misunderstanding or misapplying things like that. And it took me a little while to kind of ferret out what was happening. But I realized two things. I realized that one I was kind of looking at everything through a particular lens and then a huge way I know I've shouted out to Kathy Fosnot and Martin Dolk before, but in a huge way, I caught their stuff early. And I was looking at things through their lens of a landscape of learning, and a modeling lens that was pretty unique and a little bit different. And we're going to talk more about that in the podcast about that unique lens. But because I was looking through that unique lens, I sort of looked at things in wherever it was coming from, and I was kind of able to make, I was able to take from it the the really good stuff that fit and kind of ignore the stuff that didn't kind of fit in that system. And then also, I was looking at things from a higher math perspective, I would meet a lot of elementary experts that were inadvertently kind of using rules that expired or, or were doing sort of things that kind of looked like they work at the elementary but didn't really follow through with the higher math. And so those two underpinnings were really important for me that they were the lens through which I looked at everything and did everything.

Kim Montague :

Yeah, so why is that Important? We see a lot of teachers who sort of sway in the wind a little bit. And what I mean by that is they try whatever new thing comes out. And we're suggesting that you need to have a system of beliefs, and then weigh that new thing that comes up against your system of beliefs. You need to know what you think about how kids learn math, and really what math is so that your decisions are based on that foundation. It's less about, you know, I need this engaging thing to do today. And what's Pinterest got? And more of, what's the mathematics at hand? And how can we best get students minds around those ideas? And I'm not saying that teacher pay teacher or Pinterest is full of garbage. There's some great things out there. But you really need to have a discerning eye based on what you're looking for. Is it the math or the attractiveness of the game or the worksheet?

Pam Harris :

Yeah, and here's another way to clarify what we're talking about. Kim, you and I have some similarities. When we facilitate workshops together sometimes, people would look at us and kind of go, oh, there's like the Pam and Kim show. And sometimes people might get the mistaken impression that what we're advocating, what we're suggesting is that they adopt our personality type.

Kim Montague :

Yeah, so we're not the same, and we have some differences. But we look similar. We have the same personalities. We're kind of outgoing and loud. But it's more that we can have the same philosophy on teaching.

Pam Harris :

Yeah. So here's another way to exemplify that. You have a teaching partner that you taught with for years Her name is Monica. My personal kids had you two, it was wonderful. So tell us a little bit about you and Monica in that teaching partnership.

Kim Montague :

Oh, so Monica and I are nothing alike. personality wise, she's quiet. She's very relaxed and calm. And she has different interests than I do. But we made a great partnership and co teaching because we share the same vision and philosophy about students and the way they learn and the way we taught. We didn't really struggle with each other's practice, because more often than not, we believe the same things and wanted the same things for our classrooms.

Pam Harris :

Like when you guys plan together, you were totally able to plan together, you're on the same page as far as Math and Math teaching or what it meant or how kids learn. And so because you have those things in common, you really worked well together.

Kim Montague :

Yeah.

Pam Harris :

And then similarly, but different. Kim had my kids in her class, and so I would see stuff that you sent home, right? And sometimes I would look at the stuff you sent home, and I'm like Kim!?

Kim Montague :

And I'd smile and say, you can read the directions, Pam,

Pam Harris :

Because I just like glanced at it. And I had kind of had a knee jerk reaction to like, I would see it and go what in the - Oh, and then when I actually read the directions, you had rewritten the direction so that they were good directions and you you took what would normally be kind of a lame, dumb worksheet, but you made it into something really mathy really where kids were using relationships and connections and and I kind of all too often would have this kind of quick reaction. So I learned to look at what you sent home and really weigh out, why would it sort of trust you a little bit. What What did Kim have in mind? Oh, that really is good work for kids to do. Because you have this cohesive vision about what it means to learn math and what real math is. And because of that, Kim, I can hand you any resource and you can find a really cool way to use it.

Kim Montague :

Yeah, sometimes we're not given choices, right? There's things that you're told you have to use, but I could choose how I was going to use that resource.

Pam Harris :

Yeah, and you did it really well. In fact, there's still times today where I'll look at something or be sent something or someone asks question. And I'll call you up like Kim, what's your gut instinct on this? Because you'll have a way of helping me maintain my integrity like, how, how does this sort of sit in our system of beliefs. Just yesterday, I hollered at you and I said, Hey, somebody just and I'm not gonna get too picky because I don't want anybody to know what I'm talking about. But somebody proposed something on social media and had this gut instinct of like, like, no, like it worked against what I - but I couldn't quite figure it out Why? And so I gave you a call. I was like, Am I right on this? And you kind of laughed and you're like, yes. And then you add, the more we talked about it, the more we're able to kind of go, oh, because it doesn't fit in our system. This is where it works against what we think about how kids really learn. So, y'all, if you're wondering what you get by listening to a Pam Harris podcast or taking a Pam Harris workshop, or joining our brand new membership site called journey, what is that thing that you get? What you don't get is a bunch of tips and tricks. If that gimmick didn't work, then try this one. If kids are disengaged, there's a song or a dance to try. You won't even get a bunch of advice from a lot of different educators unless that advice fits, unless it makes sense in our cohesive vision of Math and Math teaching.

Kim Montague :

So we want to challenge you listeners to take some time to think about and record. What do you believe about teaching and learning? Does everything that you do fit inside your beliefs?

Pam Harris :

And make some decisions. Like, instead of picking something up just because it's flashy, or it'll make Tuesday more fun. How does it help your students mathematize more? How does it help them gain a growth mindset about what it means for them to learn, think and use what they know and build themselves as developing mathematicians. Alright, cool. So if you want to learn more, check out the blog on the website mathisFigureOutAble.com. We'd love for you to join us on Wednesdays on your favorite social media at #MathStratChat. And if you don't mind and if you like our podcast, give us a review that would be fantastic and help more people find the podcast. So if you're interested to learn more math and you want to help students develop as mathematicians then the Math is Figure-Out-Able Podcast is for you. Because math is Figure-Out-Able!