Classroom Disruptions

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John Hayes, Eagle River, WI    johnhayes@cpm.org

As a result of doing a few book studies – White Fragility, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, and Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria – I have been reflecting on how I can take action against inequity when I see it. I decided to create a list of actions and language that I would watch for, with a plan for how I can disrupt those things. My list is short right now and variable so that it is meaningful and effective, but also because different situations call for different responses.

During the month of January, I considered how I might use my action plan during Implementation Support Visits. We often think about Implementation Support Visits as opportunities to problem solve with teachers but I also see them as an opportunity to empower teachers. I have gotten in the habit of asking two questions at the beginning of each debrief during these visits. These questions not only push teachers to recognize positive things that happen in their classrooms but also encourage them to continue to take purposeful action. The first question focuses on positive changes: What student behaviors or practices would you like to celebrate since the last visit? As teachers tell me things like, “My students’ written justifications are better” or “My students’ discussions are better”, I take notes and prepare for my follow-up question. Then I ask, How did you make that happen?  Teachers usually pause after this question as they realize that the change in their practice has had an impact on their students’ learning. When they are able to provide a list of practices, expectations, and strategies they have used to create this change in student behavior, I ask them to write these down. This list of practices then becomes non-negotiable expectations in their classrooms.

The second question I ask, which is a result of my own reflection mentioned above, is, What student behaviors or practices would you like to disrupt in your classroom? The teacher may say things such as being off task, apathy, refusing to work in a team, or even status problems. The teacher and I then brainstorm some actions that the teacher can take when they witness these behaviors. Because I used the word “disrupt”, this set of student actions then becomes a list of behaviors for which immediate action is required.

One of the behaviors on my own disrupt list is using deficit language. Whenever I hear a teacher say things like “This is my low class” or “This student is one of my low students,” I say something to address it. For example, I will ask the teacher to pause for a second, and I will explain that they just used deficit language. I am transparent about why I am confronting them about their language.  I will say, Deficit language is on a list of things I have pledged to disrupt. This process is uncomfortable, but I have to stay true to my core values.

I think all of us, whether we are teachers or not, could have a list of things that we pledge to disrupt. For example, when we hear language with implicit biases against specific groups of people (intentional or not), we should and can disrupt that language, whether we hear it in a classroom, school, or even a company meeting. What can you disrupt? Make a plan for how you follow through.


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Algebra Tiles Session

  • Used throughout CPM middle and high school courses
  • Concrete, geometric representation of algebraic concepts.
  • Two-hour virtual session,
  •  Learn how students build their conceptual understanding of simplifying algebraic expressions
  • Solving equations using these tools.  
  • Determining perimeter,
  • Combining like terms,
  • Comparing expressions,
  • Solving equations
  • Use an area model to multiply polynomials,
  • Factor quadratics and other polynomials, and
  • Complete the square.
  • Support the transition from a concrete (manipulative) representation to an abstract model of mathematics..

Foundations for Implementation

This professional learning is designed for teachers as they begin their implementation of CPM. This series contains multiple components and is grounded in multiple active experiences delivered over the first year. This learning experience will encourage teachers to adjust their instructional practices, expand their content knowledge, and challenge their beliefs about teaching and learning. Teachers and leaders will gain first-hand experience with CPM with emphasis on what they will be teaching. Throughout this series educators will experience the mathematics, consider instructional practices, and learn about the classroom environment necessary for a successful implementation of CPM curriculum resources.

Page 2 of the Professional Learning Progression (PDF) describes all of the components of this learning event and the additional support available. Teachers new to a course, but have previously attended Foundations for Implementation, can choose to engage in the course Content Modules in the Professional Learning Portal rather than attending the entire series of learning events again.

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Building on Instructional Practice Series

This series contains three different courses, taken in either order. The courses are designed for schools and teachers with a minimum of one year of experience teaching with CPM curriculum materials. Teachers will develop further understanding of strategies and tools for instructional practices and assessment.

Building on Equity

In this course, participants will learn how to include equitable practices in their  classroom and support traditionally underserved students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Participants will reflect on how their math identity and mindsets impact student learning. They will begin working on a plan for implementing Chapter 1 that creates an equitable classroom culture and curate strategies for supporting all students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Follow-up during the school year will support ongoing implementation of equitable classroom practices.

Building on Assessment

In this course, participants will apply assessment research to develop methods to provide feedback to students and to inform equitable assessment decisions. Participants will develop assessment action plans that will encourage continued collaboration within their learning community.

Building on Discourse

This professional learning builds upon the Foundations for Implementation Series by improving teachers’ ability to facilitate meaningful mathematical discourse. This learning experience will encourage participants to adjust their instructional practices in the areas of sharing math authority, developing independent learners, and the creation of equitable classroom environments. Participants will plan for student learning by using teaching practices such as posing purposeful questioning, supporting productive struggle, and facilitating meaningful mathematical discourse. In doing so, participants learn to support students collaboratively engaged with rigorous, team-worthy tasks with all elements of the Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices.