Setting the foundation!

Welcome to my very first blog post!

A year and a half ago, I was offered the amazing opportunity to leave my 5th grade classroom of 13 years and become a Title 1 funded Math Coach K-5.  I loved having my own classroom and teaching all subjects, but Math has always been my passion and the opportunity to share my passion with all teachers, assistants, parents, and students was simply a dream come true.  I had a steep learning curve, though, since I knew nothing about how our youngest children learn math. So I read everything and anything on early numeracy and discovered the most amazing educators in cyberspace!!  I was especially enamored and impressed with the educators in MTBoS.  I have looked forward to checking my Twitter every day to see what new things I will learn, activities I can try in my classroom, and topics that really get me to think and reflect on my teaching practices.  After seeing a particularly persuasive video of an MTBoS member encouraging more people to get involved, I decided that I wanted to become a more active member of this amazing group of educators and signed up for a mentor to help me get going.  I couldn’t believe it when I learned that I was assigned Tracy Zager as my mentor since she was one of these amazing educators I was following on Twitter!  Crazy cool!

My title “Setting the Foundation” serves a dual purpose with this blog post since it is my first post and, thus, is literally the foundation upon which I will build my blog, but it is also metaphorically a phrase that describes what has become my life’s work!  The more that I work with students K-5, the more convinced I am that we need to teach them strategies that will help them succeed not only today but tomorrow as well.  When we teach our first graders how to add two single-digit numbers by using strategies like make a ten, doubles plus 1, or bridge 10 to add over ten, we are not only helping them solve the problems they see today, but we are providing the foundation upon which they will progress to learn addition with larger numbers and even fractions and decimals down the line.  When we teach 3rd graders how to build concrete models like an open array to show a multiplication problem, we are not only teaching them how to solve a problem today, but we are setting the foundation for using a model that will work with single and multi-digit whole numbers, then decimals in 5th grade, and even polynomials in algebra further on their math journey.  It just make so much sense!

One last thing I want to mention in this first post…underlying all my work with teaching math facts strategically, encouraging the development of mental math strategies through Number Talks, and teaching models that will follow students as they progress on their journey, there is one foundational idea that I believe in my heart can change the course of anyone’s math journey – having a growth mindset.  Jo Boaler’s ideas are revolutionary and so, so important.  They encompass the idea that everyone can learn math!  There is no “math brain”…our beliefs about math are shaped by our experiences and attitudes towards math.  Our brains have the amazing ability to grow and change and by believing that we CAN learn by trying out new strategies and asking for help when we need it, we CAN learn things that we never dreamed we could learn!  Helping children take chances and not be afraid of making mistakes…indeed, as Jo Boaler shares, brain research shows that when we are being challenged and we make a mistake trying out a new strategy, our brain grows! When we realize we made a mistake, it grows again, and when we fix it, it grows again.  I want to be a part of this revolution that changes people’s mindsets about math and help those who have developed a phobia about math to see that math is beautiful and accessible to all! Thanks so much for joining me on this journey!

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