Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Math Room Makeover

My classroom is likely the most boring room on the planet. The walls are mostly bare with the exception of a few posters that were left from the teacher that was in there before I was (I'm guessing they're from the 80's). I often look at my room and think "I should really update this room a little". Can you guess at how far I get with that thought? Not very. Although my intentions are good, I often find about 100 things that I think are more important. My lack of ambition in this area combined with my complete lack of style and decorating ability have let inertia win out on this one.

However, I think the stars may be aligning for a change. The math teachers at the school met with the vice principal about a bunch of different things and at the end of the meeting she talked about how she'd like to work on sprucing up the math rooms. No doubt this was a result of my room. In any case, I have dubbed this event the Math Room Makeover. If you know of any television networks that would like to sponsor us, let me know!

The other piece of this puzzle is that while I enjoy my semester off a number of teachers will be using my room. Two of these teachers have asked if they could decorate my room, one has even done some painting already (Thanks Laura!).

I'm looking for some ideas for decorating a math classroom. What does your classroom look like? Feel like sharing a picture? Do you have any neat ideas, poster, etc. I'm desperate! Ideas don't need to be strictly math related.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Connecting Elementary & Secondary Teachers

CC licensed photo shared by hanspoldoja

A few weeks ago I had a chance to meet with some grade nine math teachers from my school, grade eight teachers from our feeder schools, a guidance counsellor and a vice-principal. As I sat in the meeting I realized the in my 11 years of teaching at the same school, I had never actually met with elementary teachers. This struck me as being quite odd.

The meeting was coordinated by one of our guidance counsellors in an effort to improve our students' transitions from grade eight to grade nine in the area of math. As secondary teachers we shared some information about the content of the courses, but really focused on highlighting the differences in the streams (locally developed, applied and academic) and the pathways students could take based on their choices in grade nine.  We talked about alternate pathways and how there were a number of ways a student could move from one stream to another. The elementary teachers seemed very receptive and asked a lot of great questions. By the end of the meeting I had the sense that many of the teachers felt more comfortable and had more information to present to their students about recommendations for high school. I can't believe that we hadn't done this before.

For me the best part of the meeting happened once the official meeting was over. After the meeting there were lots of informal conversations about "What's the best way to teach X?" or "How do you teach Y?" and the like. It was great to see teachers connecting and discussing math. I think conversations like these give us a window into other teachers' classrooms. They allow us to share best practices, bounce ideas off one another and hopefully improve the way we do business. I think somehow we need to find more time to informally discuss how we teach math.

What does your school or district do to promote discussion between subject area teacher or to promote discussion between elementary and secondary teachers? What more can we do more to ease the transition from elementary school to secondary school?