April 2024 Message from the Board

Andrew Busch, Region 2 Representative

I’ve been a classroom teacher for just shy of forever: middle school, high school, rural, urban, suburban. Like many of you, I’ve seen curriculums and trends in education come and go. 

What’s interesting about the trends in math education, is that they’ve narrowed in diversity. There is now a steady push to follow the ever-growing consensus of how students learn math. It turns out;  rather unsurprisingly, that students learn math like they learn everything else–through trying, making mistakes, and revising their thinking. People learn math by doing math. 

Even though my classroom “dog and pony show” was high-energy and I had pretty amazing jazz hands, I had to change how I thought.. and how I taught. I was doing way, way more math than my students. My students were just watching me do the math and keeping a historical record of the event in their notes. My journey of changing how I teach came in fits and starts. Some years I made good progress incorporating problem-based learning into existing units. Other years, all I could do was try to hold the line and not regress. 

I’ve learned a lot around how to have math conversations where students are talking to each other and how to wrap up a lesson that went off the rails with a solid synthesis to make sure everyone is ending up back at my learning targets for the day. But, I still have questions. I still struggle with what to do with students who refuse to try. And now, with a new curriculum adoption by my district, how I develop a classroom culture that supports rough draft thinking. 

How do I walk the line between productive and unproductive struggle?

I want my students engaged and solving problems but not giving up. I want to see my students make progress in the problem. But I don’t want to be the one to rescue them by giving them the next steps.

That’s why I’m super excited that Kevin Dykema is presenting at the CCTM Conference this summer. After perusing his book, Productive Math Struggle, I’m particularly excited to be in a workshop where he addresses how to build a classroom community that values struggle and how to support productive struggle during the lesson. I can’t wait to join with my fellow math teachers from across Colorado to do the hard work of becoming better teachers. 

We’re better together.

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