Bringing This to Life in Your Classroom
One Stone and Carnegie Learning share the belief that acceptance, collaboration, creativity, innovation, and risk-taking are made possible through strong relationships between students and teachers. The relationships that are built and exist in the One Stone environment can be built in any classroom setting.
Genuinely get to know your students. What are their interests and hobbies? What is their home life like? Remember that life isn’t always perfect and we don’t always make the right decisions. Focus on helping students learn how to deal with that reality instead of punishing them for imperfections. Strong relationships with student stem from authentic interactions and letting students get to know you as well.
Just like the coaches at One Stone, you can be a collaborator with your students. Let them see that their voice is just as important or even more important than your voice in the classroom. Give them opportunities to provide you with feedback about class and their understanding of the concepts being taught. If you are trying a new lesson or strategy, ask them to tell you one thing they liked about that lesson and one thing they would have changed. Then apply that feedback so they see that you value their input. Instead of asking, “Any questions?” to verify understanding, have students work with a partner or a group to come up with one question they still have about the content being discussed.
Entrusting students to take ownership of their learning environment is another important goal. Students should be active participants in their learning, contributing to the atmosphere and culture of the classroom. Help students have a voice in that environment through the collaborative creation of classroom norms. Ensure that students know they can hold each other accountable for those norms. Let them reflect on how they are attending to the norms and what they can do to help improve the classroom culture. Students need to feel safe and know that when they express their thoughts, ideas, and concerns, that input is seen as meaningful and valued.
Empower student mathematical voices as well. Reflect on the amount of time you talk during a lesson versus the amount of time students talk. You can even ask a coach or colleague to come to your class and collect data for you. Think about the intentional ways that you are encouraging students to work together and share their reasoning or thought process with the rest of the class. You can start with some tasks like these:
Algebra I / Integrated Math I
Geometry / Integrated Math II
This will give students the opportunity to critique and discuss different thoughts without the fear of being the owner of the ideas. Then build up to putting their work under a document camera or having students do work on the board. Let them explain their approach. Even if there is a misstep in the work it is still valuable for the rest of the students to see it. Don’t correct the student that is presenting, but ask their peers to offer feedback. Build a collaborative community by helping students see that they can turn to each other for validation and they should look for the reasoning as well as the solution.
Provide students with opportunities to connect math back to their interests. While you might not be able to create full courses around the interests of your students like the team at One Stone has the flexibility to do, you can still incorporate those interests. As students are building their conceptual understanding of a topic ask them to brainstorm where they might find those ideas in the world around them. If you do projects or performance tasks, have a couple of options and give students the choice to pick the one that interests them the most, or provide the flexibility and space for students to make it their own. Maybe instead of a problem about an ice cream truck, students want to change it to a taco truck. Let them bring that passion and creativity to the work they do in math class.
Making moves to help students feel like genuine owners of their learning environment, instead of visitors to your environment, will help students be more confident, take more risks, and have deeper more genuine learning opportunities, just like Viveca. While it is important that this happens in all content areas, it is even more critical for math classes. It is through relationships and empowerment that we can change the culture of math classes and how students view math.
Click here to read the companion post to this piece by Viveca Beall, student, and Allison Parker, Math Coach at One Stone.
Sarah Galasso began her career teaching secondary mathematics in Anaheim, CA. Sarah’s passion for math education and supporting diverse learners led her to the University of CA, Irvine, where she worked to provide professional development for southern California school districts as they developed K–12 standards-aligned math curricula. She also partnered with Student Achievement Partners writing a series of blog posts on the Standards for Mathematical Practice for AchievetheCore.org. As the Director of Instructional Design, Math (6-12), Sarah applies her knowledge to help produce high quality instructional resources and tools to support student growth.Explore more related to this author
Making moves to help students feel like genuine owners of their learning environment, instead of visitors to your environment, will help students be more confident, take more risks, and have deeper more genuine learning opportunities.
Sarah Galasso, Lead Mathematics Solution Specialist, Carnegie Learning