February 2023 Message from the Board


Written by Chelsea Carstensen, Region 1 Representative

Welcome to the February 2023 CCTM Newsletter. CCTM is a non-profit designed to support educators with the teaching and learning of mathematics. This month our board message is by Chelsea Carstensen, our CCTM region 1 representative and her reflections on building an asset-based classroom



Reflections on Building an  Asset-Based Classroom

As I reflect on my goals from the beginning of the school year, I always come back to how the learning environment feels. My goal at the beginning of the school year was to create a safe container for my students to learn and take risks. I wanted them to feel brave in that space, enough to take some risks and trust themselves.  

At the beginning of the year school we establish norms by creating community agreements.  These community agreements were created by the students, yet we have not given them much attention since they were created. At the end of last semester, students filled out a survey with their reflections on their own efforts, performance, and goals. This gave me good feedback, and gave all students a chance to voice their perceptions.  As a result, we reestablished norms this semester by revisiting our community agreements in each of my classes. These agreements provide students ownership and build unity. As the teacher, I refer to them when students need reminding of how to contribute to the learning community in a positive manner, rather than stating “it’s a school rule”. After revisiting our norms, students asked me if I would make a large poster of our community agreements to post in class, as well as share them with guest teachers. They felt it would be beneficial to have those reminders on a daily basis.

Another reflection I came to was how I approach students’ previous learning and new content.  Instead of planning a lesson or unit with what students are missing or don’t understand, I want to approach lesson planning with their talents and proficiencies in mind. How can I build on their strengths? This semester I began thinking about my students from an assets-based approach with regards to students’ talents and strengths in all areas, not just their Math skills. This also led me to think about what Math problems and routines could I provide that have multiple entry points and exits. How can students engage with and represent their understanding in a variety of ways?

Building on my training with accessible and trauma-informed teaching practices, I have been more intentional with providing clear context and framing. I like to start lessons and activities with three questions:Where did we start? Where are we now? Where are we going? This helps students know what to expect and see how far they have come.  These class discussions also allow students to voice their perceptions, and pose questions.  

Creating time and space for reflection, being honest with myself, and giving myself grace helps me to provide the same for my students. I wish you all a strong start to the second semester, and would love to hear what your goals and aspirations are for the new year! What have been your reflections and goals in the new year, new semester?

Chelsea Carstensen
Region 1 CCTM Representative
[email protected]

Board Updates

Return to CCTM February Newsletter