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2024: Reflect, Cultivate and Thrive! Strengthening Foundations for a New Year

communication identity math community Dec 20, 2023

As educators, celebrating the strengths of our teaching practices is pivotal to fostering a positive and thriving learning environment. As we approach the new year in 2024, let's take a moment to acknowledge and magnify the strengths within our current math community. If you have been following along this school year, you likely already have many of these ideas in place in your classroom community. Through a strength-based lens, we will identify what is already working well and inspire some In Action steps to further enhance our math education journey. 

What will you cultivate more of in 2024?

Exploring Everyday Math Connections:

  • Do you frequently incorporate real-world examples and daily life situations into your math lessons to help students see the relevance of mathematical concepts. How can you mathematize common activities and experiences to deepen understanding?

In Action: Invite students to use their ‘Math Eyes’. Regularly look for math that lives in our day to day activities. Go on a math hunt outside, around the classroom or invite families to do math hunt’s at home! Think about the different opportunities you have throughout the day to integrate math, beyond your math block. 

Celebrating Diverse Mathematical Perspectives:

  • Reflect on the diversity of mathematical thinkers and the varied ways individuals approach problem-solving. How can you celebrate and incorporate diverse perspectives in your teaching to make math more accessible and enjoyable for all students?

In Action: Frequently use gallery walks, to have children observe and reflect on their fellow mathematicians problem solving approaches. You can also check out how to build your mathematicians tool belt, to encourage the use of multiple strategies for problem solving in math! 

Cultivating an Identity as a Mathematician:

  • Consider how your children view themselves as mathematicians, and their value as members of the mathematical community in your classroom. How can you encourage students to develop a strong identity as mathematicians, fostering a sense of belonging and capability? 

In Action: Encourage students to share their own mathematical journeys, celebrating their unique contributions and fostering a sense of identity as capable mathematicians. The new year is a great time to revisit ‘What do mathematicians do?’ and deepen our thinking around the thoughts, behaviours and actions of mathematicians. Noticing and naming attributes of mathematicians helps children build confidence in their own identity as mathematicians and support one another in community. 

Encouraging Mathematical Dialogue:

  • Reflect on the quality of math discussions in your classroom. How can you foster an environment where students feel comfortable sharing their thought processes, asking questions, and engaging in meaningful mathematical discourse with their peers?

In Action: Regular reflection and attention to communication skills can strengthen children’s awareness and use of strong mathematical communication. Frequently re-visit communication norms and the use of silent communication signals in your classroom. Use a prompt during morning meetings such as “Why is it important for mathematicians to communicate?” or “What does listening look like and feel like?”

Embracing Mistakes as Learning Opportunities:

  • Consider how you can create a culture where making mistakes is seen as a natural part of the learning process. How can you encourage students to learn from their errors and view them as valuable opportunities for growth and understanding?

In Action: One way to bring this to life is to normalize the phrase “changed my thinking”. You can model this yourself, by making a mistake and announcing, “Oh, I’m just going to change my thinking here” and revise your mistake. Intentionally highlighting this idea with the children lessens the idea of a mistake and helps value the impermanence of our thinking, giving permission for us to change our mind (and thoughts!) as we learn and reflect on new information. 

Family and Community Involvement in Math Education:

  • Reflect on ways to involve families and the community in supporting math education. How can you create opportunities for parents and caregivers to participate in their child's math learning journey, reinforcing the idea that mathematizing is a collaborative effort that extends beyond the classroom?

In Action: Consider hosting a family Math Games afternoon, where adults are invited to come and play math games with the children in the last block of the day. Do you have regular communication with your families? Send home a podcast about supporting math for families, like this one here! 

As we enter the new year in 2024, let's embrace the strengths within our math community and magnify what is already working well. Reflect on your teaching practices and consider what you will cultivate more of in the coming year. Are you exploring everyday math connections, celebrating diverse mathematical perspectives, cultivating an identity as a mathematician, encouraging meaningful mathematical dialogue, embracing mistakes as learning opportunities, and involving families and the community in math education? Put some intentional steps in action and together, let's create a thriving and collaborative math education journey that extends beyond the classroom.

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