Of all the things I could choose to blog about– my favorite cheesecake recipe, life as a full-time teacher and mother of five, my travels, favorite books that I’ve read– math was an unlikely choice. If you asked me five years ago to do this, start blogging about math, I would have a) asked, “What’s a blog?” and then b) run the other direction at the mere mentioning of math.
You see, from the time I was in middle school (or junior high as they called it back in the day), math has always evoked a sense of
unease distress dread terror anxiety in me. Seeing test after test with my teachers’ glaring red marks were a constant reminder of my mathematical ineptness. As my aversion to math increased, my confidence withered away to almost nonexistence. My brain, I believed, was simply not made to understand, much less excel in, math. I had the epitome of a fixed mindset.
Fast forward twenty-some years. Reflecting upon the work of Carol Dweck on mindset and more recently, the work of Jo Boaler on math achievement, coupled with my experience teaching Cathy Fosnot’s Units, Contexts for Learning Mathematics, I experienced an epiphany of sorts. I began to see math not as something to do but something to understand. Mistakes didn’t mean that I was dumb, but that my synapses were firing like crazy due to new learning. I was beginning to see math as more than simply a fork in the road– one path leading to “right,” the other to “wrong”– but rather as an endless sea of possibilities.
This transformation not only changed my mindset, it revolutionized my approach to teaching math. The fact that I find joy in the daily 90 minutes of Math Workshop speaks volumes. Thankfully, my enthusiasm has been contagious. But what if I had not undergone this transformation? What if I continued to secretly abhor the very subject I was trying to teach my students? The results, I suspect, would be disastrous. Math Workshop, for them, would be a time to perform, where only an elite few would be deemed worthy of being true math achievers, and the rest…Well, would not.
I would have continued to teach the way I was taught and more frighteningly, I would have found no fault in doing so. While I regret my pre-transformation days, I cannot dwell on them because I am too excited in the present, and for the future. While I’m happy with the changes I’ve made, I’m far from being satisfied. There is, I believe, an inherent danger in being satisfied with oneself (growth mindset speaking!). I want to be better. I need to be better. My kids deserve better than the math teacher they have today, and that’s why I’m doing this.
And so begins my journey into the MathBlogosphere. Equipped with nothing more than ambition, an oh-so-patient mentor (Thanks, Simon!), and an aging laptop, I take my first steps into the blogging world with a sense of trepidation.
But I don’t have anything brilliant to share.
I will share the brilliance of my colleagues (like this Queen of Teaching/Educator Extraordinaire a.k.a. the unbelievably talented and lovely Jen Bearden) and of those who continue to enrich the world of math with passion, wonder, and creativity.
What if no one reads my blog?
I will write for myself– to reflect, plan, and improve.
What if they don’t like what I write?
I will continue to write– my work is not perfect and I seek to improve.
Consider this a personal invitation to join me on this important journey by sharing your insights, experiences, and knowledge. I look forward to our learning together!