Deprivatizing our Practice

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Sharon Rendon, Director of Professional Learning,

One of NCTM’s Guiding Principles from their publication, Principles to Actions calls teachers to a higher standard of professionalism. “In an excellent mathematics program, educators hold themselves and their colleagues accountable for the mathematical success of every student and for their personal and collective professional growth toward effective teaching and learning of mathematics.”

For too long, teaching has been a profession where individuals carry out their work in isolation. In order to impact student learning, teachers need to learn to deprivatize their practice. This can happen through collaboration, opening up your classroom, and allowing others in to observe you in your classroom. All teachers need to be professionals who do not do their work in isolation. They need to cultivate and support a culture of professional collaboration and continual improvement, to create an environment where teachers rely on each other to do this complex work.

The beauty of collaboration is not only the ability to tap into various perspectives and ideas, but also to share responsibility for students’ learning. When teachers come together to share information, resources, ideas, and expertise, learning becomes more accessible and effective for students. Collaborating means purposefully building interpersonal relationships and becoming comfortable giving and receiving feedback without feeling judged. When teachers engage in opening up their classrooms and deprivatizing their practices the benefits include:

Increase in student learning —When teachers collaborate on instruction and brainstorm how to support all students in learning, lessons are more successful.

More creative and effective planning—When teachers communicate and share ideas, their efficacy is built, and their willingness to take risks increases, knowing they are not doing the work alone. Colleagues may be influenced to try a new Study Team and Teaching Strategy, or think about how to best support a team through different content topics.

Less teacher isolation—When teachers have the opportunity to share ideas and information they soon discover they are not in this work alone. Working in collaboration helps to combat professional loneliness and frustration, which can improve satisfaction in the profession.

A great starting place for opening up your classroom is to simply invite one of your colleagues into your room to watch a part of a lesson. Perhaps you want to have someone listen to the questions you are asking, or to analyze how you are supporting students without just providing the answers. Ask someone to observe your class, watching for those two areas.

Another strategy that is gaining popularity is to post a sign outside your classroom door that says #observeme. This sign serves as an open invitation for your colleagues to come into your room and provide you feedback on the desired items listed on your sign.  For more information on how this might work or how you might get others to engage in the practice see either the CPM newsletter from January 2017 or

A third strategy you might consider is the idea of a “pineapple chart.” This strategy was highlighted in the March 2018 CPM newsletter. The pineapple is the symbol of hospitality, and a pineapple chart is a way of informally inviting others into your classroom to see your practice. You can hang this in a common area in the school or create an electronic one on a Google Sheet. List the days of the week across the top and the names of the teachers down the side. When a teacher has something planned that they are willing to share, they list it on the chart so others know they are welcome to enter and observe in that classroom.

Regardless of how you choose to get started, the important part is to just get started. Open up your door and invite your colleagues in to see your practice. With your colleagues, choose a common STTS to try, and then reflect on how it went. Be brave, step up, and lead your colleagues in this effort to share your teaching practice with one another, and continue to take steps to grow professionally.

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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

The Building on Instructional Practice Series consists of three different events – Building on Discourse, Building on Assessment, Building on Equity – that are designed for teachers with a minimum of one year of experience teaching with CPM instructional materials and who have completed the Foundations for Implementation Series.

Building on Equity

In Building on Equity, participants will learn how to include equitable practices in their classroom and support traditionally underserved students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Essential questions include: How do I shift dependent learners into independent learners? How does my own math identity and cultural background impact my classroom? The focus of day one is equitable classroom culture. Participants will reflect on how their math identity and mindsets impact student learning. They will begin working on a plan for Chapter 1 that creates an equitable classroom culture. The focus of day two and three is implementing equitable tasks. Participants will develop their use of the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Meaningful Mathematical Discussions and curate strategies for supporting all students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Participants will use an equity lens to reflect on and revise their Chapter 1 lesson plans.

Building on Assessment

In Building on Assessment, participants will apply assessment research and develop methods to provide feedback to students and inform equitable assessment decisions. On day one, participants will align assessment practices with learning progressions and the principle of mastery over time as well as write assessment items. During day two, participants will develop rubrics, explore alternate types of assessment, and plan for implementation that supports student ownership. On the third day, participants will develop strategies to monitor progress and provide evidence of proficiency with identified mathematics content and practices. Participants will develop assessment action plans that will encourage continued collaboration within their learning community.

Building on Discourse

In Building on Discourse, participants will improve their 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 rich tasks with all elements of the Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices incorporated through intentional and reflective planning.