Taking Math to the Next Level

As the school year comes to an end, I am happy to have time to reflect on the shifts that have taken place in the math department this year.  Although there is often apprehension when parents hear the words “Common Core,” the math department has found incredible success implementing a common core math curriculum in all levels of math.

The two major focuses of the math department this year were rigor and growth mindset, which truly go hand in hand.  Students often come into our classrooms with an idea that they are just not good at math.  It is our job to help each student realize that he has the potential to learn and grow in any area he chooses, including math.  The way that we have accomplished this feat is through instruction in growth mindset.

We teach our students that the brain is a muscle that can be taught new information, that our attitude towards learning new things affects our ability to learn that mindset, and the power of the word, “yet.”  The statement, “I don’t understand this,” changes entirely when we add on that one, extremely powerful three-letter word.  Our students now say, “I don’t understand this yet,” giving themselves time to learn and recognizing that they can and will learn.

Paired with an increase in rigor, we have seen a shift in our students’ willingness to attempt challenging problems as well as an increase in their proficiency.  By teaching our students how they learn, we have allowed them to accept struggle as part of the learning process.  As our students analyze their failures, they are able to re-attempt problems in new and interesting ways.  I find myself continually impressed by the grit and hard work of our students as they learn new material.

Presenting at the OLA regional in-service in March, I had teachers from other schools come up to me and ask if we were really implementing Common Core and challenging problems at Verb, and I was proud to say that we are not only implementing, our students are improving every day.

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