Kelly Lindsey, Florence, KY, firstname.lastname@example.org
How do MY ACTIONS as a teacher influence learning for ALL STUDENTS?
This was the mantra for our five days of work at the Academy of Best Practices for Veteran CPM Teachers. We lived and breathed the CPM Team Strategies and eight Mathematical Teaching Practices. We looked inside at our own biases and mindset to see how to proactively change and improve our teaching. What a wonderful way to prepare for the new school year!
My journey as a teacher began in 1981 and has been filled with crazy turns in the road: re-interpretation of standards, new emphasis on standardized testing, new challenges as the student body diversified, to name a few. In the beginning of my career, teachers relied on textbook writers to organize content and relied on other teachers and experience to deliver the content in ways that students could understand. I figured out slowly that students learn more when they are active, cooperative, and responsible. It was difficult to invent all those things myself.
Then I went to a session led by a CPM teacher at the Kentucky Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference. I had so much fun doing math and then incorporating those ideas and strategies into my own teaching. I was hooked on CPM! But, it was still an experience in isolation. I did not know anyone in my school or district who was using CPM, but I integrated as much as I could and slowly convinced other teachers in my school to also use CPM. About ten years ago we started the transition to CPM in our core math classes and implemented Core Connections Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra 2. We met in teacher teams to discuss teaching strategies, scope, and sequence, but I still felt like I had a disadvantage; I did not know enough about the depth of CPM.
Last spring I applied and was accepted for the summer Academy of Best Practices – Veteran (ABP-V). This is a week-long residential workshop held in Seattle, WA for veteran CPM teachers (teaching CPM for more than five years) all over the country. There were 29 teachers from middle and high schools – large districts, small schools, diverse populations, close-knit communities – everything imaginable. We worked with our facilitators, Laura Lethe, Bruce Brusoe, and Cheryl Tucker as well as guest speakers. We all shared a joy and love of math and a love of watching students succeed. Everyday we worked hard, learned new things, shared ideas (which was magical!), and talked about how we overcome obstacles in our own classrooms.
One of the things I appreciated most was the opportunity to see nearly all the team strategies used perfectly. The teachers willingly did whatever Bruce, Cheryl, and Laura asked and I saw how things should happen, and learned to plan for when things are not perfect. We also delved into the CPM Teacher Resources and learned about changes to the teacher eBook. We deconstructed a lesson for in-depth planning and then examined how that lesson fit into its section and chapter. Having time to focus on my specific textbook and hearing how other people manage their classes really helped me understand what I need to do.
We started school the Monday after returning from ABP-V and Seattle. I have been able to carry the excitement of the ABP-V into my Freshman Pre-Algebra class using the Core Connections, Course 3. My students are already learning that they are capable of great math through collaboration and hard work. I am a more capable teacher and better grounded in good practice because of my time at ABP-V.
Even if you have been using CPM for years, ABP-V is worth your time. It helped refresh me and give me new purpose. You should seriously consider applying* for next year’s cohort.*Applications will open in the new year.