Leah Gaines, Teacher Reporter, Westerville, OH
When first arriving at the CPM conference I was excited to have some time to collaborate with other teachers and learn something new; little did I know it would be so much more than that and my experience at the conference has already had a positive impact on me professionally.
Beginning with Jo Boaler, the keynote speaker, I was instantly inspired—she is so passionate about her work and research. She specifically spoke to issues that have been brought up on numerous occasions by our district’s parents and students as we have transitioned to CPM: ability grouping, students thinking they are “not good at math,” and the research behind the benefits of a growth mindset. Everything she shared with us made me a bigger believer in the fact that we are doing what is best for students and will continue to see huge growth in their learning.
Next it was on to the individual sessions. The amount of information I soaked up during these sessions was astounding. I was amazed by the scope of what can be done with Desmos, I heard of fellow teachers’ experience with a standards-based grading system, I was introduced to tech tools I can incorporate into my everyday lessons, I learned how to grade with a rubric, and how to make my grading practices fair and equitable. I could go on and on about the invaluable learning that took place. But what really solidified it for me was the chance to discuss these topics with my peers.
For the entirety of the two days I was constantly collaborating with teachers from all over America, from schools of all types and backgrounds. In true CPM fashion, this is where the true learning happened. I had the chance to internalize all of the information I had heard, was able to learn what others had learned in different sessions, and was able to compare notes and come away with so many ideas for my own classroom and school.
For me, being a teacher is summed up perfectly in the saying “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” As any teacher knows, the day-to-day grind of planning, grading, emails, and meetings makes it hard to take time out to focus on your teaching practice as a whole. I know for me personally, taking time to come to the CPM conference helped me see the forest and remember why I am a teacher.