Finally, I have done it!

pondering

OK…I have finally done it after all these years. I have changed the name of this blog site. For many years, I called it, “Hatcherelli Blog.” I know…very creative. My twitter handle and the word blog. Yup…I had the writers up all night on that one. Then, I changed the name of the site to “Hatcherelli Blog: I really need to find a better name.” Again, not very imaginative but I thought it was humorous to admit within the title of the blog that I could not think of a name.

There are lots of great names of blogs out there. Some of my favourite names and favourite blogs for that matter are Bill Ferriter’s The Tempered Radical, George Couros’ Principal of Change and, of course, Dean Shareski’s Ideas and Thoughts. When Dean posts, I see his tweet that says, “I have something to Share-ski.” Pure Brilliance.

I have loved reading these blogs for many years and I admire these three gentlemen for regularly posting thoughtful and creative content.

I have always felt pressure to come up with a unique name for my blog. Everything that I have come up with, I have quickly ruled out and I stuck with the mundane, “Hatcherelli Blog.”

Finally , this weekend, it hit me…

What is this blog site? What is the purpose? Why does it exist?

It is a site where I write about things that I have been thinking about. Things that I have been mulling around in my head. Things that I have been pondering. That’s it…Mulling and Pondering.

Why do I share this story? I’m thinking that there are many times as educators and school leaders that we get stuck and we keep things the way they are even though we know there is probably a better solution. Sometimes we do things because it is the easiest thing to do and because TTWWADI (That’s the way we’ve always done it). We feel pressure that our decision will not be good enough.

I think if we find ourselves spinning our wheels, we need to get back to the questions above:

What is the purpose? Why does it exist? What is our mission and vision?

These questions will help us to keep perspective, keep us grounded and hopefully make the decision that is best.

Your thoughts?

 

Are students talking about Math or are they just “doing Math?”

addition black and white black and white chalk
Photo by George Becker on Pexels.com

I had the privilege last week of attending a session led by Dr. Marian Small. As a former mathematics teacher, Marian said a lot of things that made sense to me and caused me to reflect. Dr. Small has also authored many books which are amazing resources for Mathematics educators. Her books on open questioning are excellent.

This is the stream that I posted during the session.

One of the things that Dr. Small asked us was, “Are kids in your school talking about Math or are they just doing Math?” This question really resonated with me.

When I ask students what they are learning about in Math, many times they will say something like, “We are learning section 4.5.” I get a little concerned by this kind of a response. Is that the way kids see Mathematics, the beautiful art that connects many things on our planet? Do they see it as, today we learn 4.5, tomorrow we learn 4.6 and on Friday we will have a quiz? To me, Math education should be more that that. I think (as does Dr. Small) that we need to give kids an opportunity to talk about Math and share what they are learning.

This is a difficult thing to do…

We need to make sure that we are asking the kinds of questions that will get students interested and make them want to learn more. Dr. Small shares many examples of this in the notes that she shared with us. Also, this requires professional development for teachers and also practicing these types of questions with students and colleagues. Teachers should observe other teachers and work towards honing their craft of getting kids to talk about Mathematics. I observed a fractions lesson in my own school this week in which kids were talking about what they were learning and representing that learning with drawings and equations. There is no doubt in my mind that the learning was deeper than a “traditional” lesson.

The key to all of this is setting a learning goal for your students and working toward achieving that goal. Every learning activity or conversation that we have with kids should get us closer to the goal.

I love Dr. Small’s definition of intentional teaching. It’s about having more than a vague idea of why you are doing the activity that you are.

Those are my thoughts for the day.

Happy World Teachers Day!