Cynthia Gonzalez, Imperial Beach, CA, CGONZALEZ@sbusd.org
Using a new program is always scary, especially if you have been teaching for a while and are pretty much set in your ways of what and how to teach. CPM for me was an exciting new program that I felt was going to help my students get excited about math and, more importantly, really understand math. But as a teacher, getting started was a little scary. The management of the program was new for me and for my students. Having students work in productive teams has been a challenge.
One thing that has made a difference was the visit from my Teacher Leader. At first, when I knew that I needed to sign up for an implementation support visit, my anxiety level went up. I started thinking, “Oh no!! I’m going to be judged,” but in actuality it was the opposite. My Teacher Leader was able to observe what the students were doing and what I was doing. The way she did her observation did not make me nervous at all. The whole time she observed she gave me the feeling of support and confidence. After her observation we went over the lesson and she listed all the good things that were done during the lesson. She then went into the support part and gave me ideas and tips on how to make the lessons run smoother. One of the things that I appreciated the most about her feedback was something I had not noticed or even thought I was doing: I was being a crutch to some of my teams. I was helping them too much by lingering near their tables and waiting for them to start working. My Teacher Leader said that I need to get the teams started right away and do a quick walk around the classroom to make sure all teams have gotten started. She also mentioned that if the teams have not started right away, I should remind them to start as I walk by. Then I can simply say that I will be back in a bit. This has really made a difference in my class. I make sure that I quickly circulate around the whole class at the beginning of every lesson, and I keep circulating throughout the lesson. I am sure I see all the teams more than once each lesson. It has helped in keeping my students on task and focused on the work, knowing that I will be coming around sooner than they think.
The support and feedback from my Teacher Leader has been vital to making my math time more efficient and effective. If you have not had an observation, I highly recommend it. It is something that can make a difference in your teaching.