Professional Organization of Educators
President, Colorado Council of Teachers of Mathematics
*This message is an excerpt from the President’s Message in the August, 2015 issue of Colorado Mathematics Teacher (CMT), the CCTM professional journal. Read the full article in the CMT by clicking HERE.
In the five years since Colorado adopted the standards, many resources have been developed to support teachers in implementing them, and one of our favorites is NCTM’s Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematics Success for All. Each of the next eight issues of our Colorado Mathematics Teachers journal will focus on the eight Mathematics Teaching Practices outlined in Principles to Actions. We hope you will read the book along with us, and use the journal issues to support your understanding, collaborative conversations, and reflections regarding the great ideas in Principles to Actions.
The first Mathematics Teaching Practice is to “Establish mathematics goals to focus learning.” Principles to Actions notes that, “effective teaching of mathematics establishes clear goals for the mathematics that students are learning, situates goals within learning progressions, and uses the goals to guide instructional decisions.” It may seem rather obvious that our lessons should be focused on goals for student learning, however, this teaching practice is likely the first one for a very good reason. Not only does establishing a clear goal for student learning help us as teachers to determine appropriate learning activities, drive formative assessment practices, and allow us to help observers understand our lesson, but it also anchors students in the mathematics of the day, allows them to track their learning, and focuses them on what is most meaningful and relevant during the class period, series of lessons, or unit. Research data indicate that student learning is enhanced when the goals for learning are clear and explicit.
As this chapter of Principles to Actions reminds us, taking the time to establish clear goals for the mathematics that students are learning, situating those goals within learning progressions, and using them the to guide instructional decisions is a high-yield teaching practice, one that will go far in supporting all students in their mathematics learning journey. How will you improve your learning goals to benefit your students?