I have to tell you–light bulbs are going off here! My mantra for math instruction this year is “You, You all, We” and I’m amazed at the response from students. It’s absolutely fabulous! It’s amazing how many years of mathematical knowledge is inside those minds–yet, for many years, I approached my lessons as though they’ve never seen the concepts before (i.e. right triangles, Pythagorean Theorem, radicals, slopes).
For years I’ve followed the “Me, You all, You” mentality. By that, I mean I would model for students the appropriate technique (Me), have them practice with a partner or a group (You all), and then expect them to perform the skill on an exit ticket (You). While I’m still entirely a fan of exit tickets, I do think my philosophy of instruction may have yielded to a great paradigm shift.
It’s not that I haven’t take advantage of Professional Development–I have! I’ve gotten a masters degree in Teaching and Leadership, went to many conferences, but it is all coming together for me after I read this recent article about “Why American’s Stink at Math” in the New York Times. That simple phrase “You, You all, We” connected some of the pedagogical dots between my training in problem based learning (PBL), STEM and courses on collaboration and engagement.
The past two days I’ve posed difficult problems, knowing (okay, hoping) that there was some foundation my students could draw from. They amazed me! I gave them 1-2 minutes to work on the problem individually (You). I told them it was okay if they weren’t able to solve the problem, but to draw as many conclusions as they possibly could (for example, I asked them to write the equation for the perpendicular bisector given two endpoints–they could perhaps find the slope of the line, or find the midpoint, etc). Then, they were to spend 2-3 minutes sharing with their partners what they concluded (You all). I was thrilled at how quickly they engaged (even though it has only been days 1 and 2!). When the conversation seemed to die down, I brought their attention to the board and asked students to share what they could about the problem (We). In the end, I did very little more than facilitate. It was fabulous! The fact the some students were able to solve portions of the problem, but were stumped on others, highly motivated them to listen to the solution.
In year 10 of teaching–I think I’m finally connecting the dots–“You, You all, We.” That’s all it took!
Hope you are all having a great start to your year! So pumped to make this my #bestyearever!