Cheniece Arthur, Baltimore, MD ChenieceArthur@yahoo.com
Imagine walking into a classroom with white board walls covered with ideas you have come up with, teachers huddled in groups exchanging thoughts, algebra tiles spread across tables, remnants of oversized bubbles, candy, participation tickets, and eyes lighting up as people have ‘aha’ moments! That’s CPM, that’s the Academy of Best Practices!
I was given the opportunity to spend five days on the beautiful campus of Seattle Pacific University in Seattle, Washington with like-minded math teachers. I had no idea what I was getting into, I just knew I was excited to participate in whatever activities they had planned. Speaking of planning, this was the most well thought-out, planned, and organized event I have ever attended. The energy was great, making it a comfortable environment to flourish in.
My ABP Leaders were amazing! They triggered ideas in me that I did not know I had. They introduced us to new ways of delivering math content by putting us in the shoes of a student. Usually in my professional development meetings I walk in thinking “How long will I be in here before I can get back to making copies or planning?” However, this week long professional development sparked something in me. We did things, had discussions, and participated in all types of activities, which made me excited about learning and teaching. I was a student all over again but in this case I wanted to be there. Little did I know my life was going to change for the better; not only as a teacher going into her fourth year teaching, but as a person as well.
Along with the experience in the classroom, I was able to connect on a personal level with the other participants in the program. Once the work day was over, most of us got together to tour the city. Every night a social event was informally planned allowing us to bond. We had a chance to bounce ideas off of each other, share our “teacher stories” and really form friendships.
This experience provided me with a new perspective. It revealed to me what type of teacher I am. I never felt like I was forced to change my teaching style but rather a mirror was held up showing me what I was doing and what I could be doing with my students. The Academy of Best Practices (ABP) gave me so many new tools for my math tool box. What is great is, even though this was a math focused professional development, I was given tools that would be helpful to all teachers. I look forward to sharing all the strategies I learned with my coworkers. I am so excited to get back into classroom this upcoming fall. Every math teacher in America should have this opportunity! I hope this grows into something that is international!