If I were asked to describe my ideal classroom at the beginning of PS1 last fall, I would have portrayed a room with tables instead of desks, a smart board in front of the class, lots of visual and physical manipulatives, a no calculator rule—like in the Calculus sequence at SDSU, and most importantly me in front of the class lecturing each day with fully engaged students. As we learned about different teaching methods, I was constantly saying to myself, “I understand how this method would work for English or history but not math. By the end of the 2015 fall semester, I had developed a few ideas that would differentiate my lessons, but I was still stubbornly holding on to the idea of the traditional math classroom.
Now when I think about my ideal classroom, most of the physical aspects are the same, but my approach to teaching is much different. I realized how stubborn I was being about how math should be taught, so now I am forcing myself to become more aware of different types of lessons, teaching styles, and classroom styles. When my mom first started transforming her classroom to the hybrid model she uses today, I was unimpressed, and I thought she was taking the teaching out of her job and forcing her students to teach themselves. I never told her this of course, but when we would talk about it and I would ask her questions I am pretty sure she could guess what I was thinking. Now that I have joined a couple of online education communities through twitter and reddit, I see great value in the way she is teaching her physics classes.
What I find most interesting about my recent exposure to all these “new fangled” teaching methods is that I was learning about them throughout PS1; I was just to stubborn to see how I could apply them to a mathematics classroom. Terms like individualized learning and differentiated lesson have moved from the realm of improbable to the realm of “if would be fun if I could try…”
Some of the projects I have looked at and really like are the action figure project: where students use ratios to draw themselves as an action figure, and project that would get students outside: like throwing Frisbees and plotting points on a graph for where they land, measuring the perimeter of the school to determine its area, creating a mathematics scavenger hunt that would lead them throughout the school ground. Now, instead of thinking about teaching math in the traditional sense, I don’t think it is the only way. Instead I feel myself wanting to avoid that classroom as all costs.
Let me finish by saying, no matter the way I plan to teach, I always want it to be the best way for my students to learn the content.