February 21, 2012

Digesting a Math Conference

I am trying to digest and process my experience from an IB Math conference this past weekend. This was also my first time in a small room with so many other math teachers (Scary!).

Comments, ideas and the like that surprised me or caught my attention:
  • Teachers are most scared of "Inquiry" because of time constraints. 
  • We discuss "speed" or "efficiency" in a classroom with no clear definition of those terms. 
  • We need (successful) Inquiry and Student-Centered classrooms to be modeled, not simply written about.
  • Many teachers are concerned about "cheat sheets" and students NOT memorizing.
  • Teachers seem to attribute significant importance to memorizing.
  • Many teachers talk negatively about student abilities
  • The IB has goals for students beyond getting high marks yet, many teachers seem heavily focused on (internal/external) assessment results. 
  • Teachers seemed hungry for a recipe to "write labs" or to "teach an idea" suggesting discomfort with vagueness. 
  • Teachers have a knee-jerk reaction to "why are we doing/learning this" and to "when will we ever use this?"
  • While the IB is very aware, I was not aware of the apparent divide or conflict between the IB Learner Profile and the way IB Math is (often) getting taught.
Well there you have it. I will readily admit that I am reading into many comments and conversations making quasi-conclusions based on my own biases and preferred lingo. I have no way of knowing what these teachers classrooms are really like, but still I left feeling discouraged.

If nothing else the conference got me thinking. 

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