Mollie Siegel, Louisville, KY
The 2016/2017 school year has already begun, and more than 175 students come in and out of my Louisville, Kentucky classroom every other day through block scheduling. It is my first year in a new teaching position, and I am teaching a subject that is also new for me. Fortunately, I am one of many young teachers who want to make this an excellent year for all my students.
A few short weeks ago, CPM Educational Program sponsored 32 relatively new-to-the-field teachers at the second annual Academy of Best Practices in Seattle, Washington. I went to gain knowledge, learn new strategies, and build a network of support. I had a wonderful time on the week-long retreat, and a quick glance at the Twitter hashtag “#CPM_abp” proves many others did as well.
There is already evidence of my Seattle trip in the structure of my classroom. My challenge this year will be to better employ collaborative teams using study team strategies. You will find my room set up in assigned teams of four, with material boxes displaying different team roles, and numbered team rules posted on my wall for easy prompting and cueing. The students hear me say phrases like, “you have not got it yet,” “productive struggle,” “goal-setting,” and “self-assessment.” I even have a snazzy Desmos bumper sticker posted to my plan book. For each upcoming lesson, including the Desmos activities, I have listed pocket questions designed to support students operating at a high level of cognitive demand.
My thanks go to CPM Director Karen Wootton, CPM Project Manager Mark Cote’, and CPM Coach Coordinator Sharon Rendon for leading the cause of bringing More Math to More People. The math educator community involved with CPM Educational Program knows that the most direct way to empower students is to supercharge their teachers. More and more math classrooms are saying yes to making the math classroom a place for all students to thrive.
I am excited to share that I will be meeting virtually with three other teachers from the Academy to discuss Algebra 2 strategies through a cross-country professional learning community. I would not have this extended support if not for the veteran teachers in my life, who have looked out to mentor newer teachers. Like all of the new teachers involved in the Academy of Best Practices, I would not have attended if not for people like Rebecca Bell, Erin Schneider, Dan Kim, and Sarah Nordmann, who wrote valuable recommendations. I am confident that I will aim to be as helpful to new teachers as these people have been to me.