Friday, 3 March 2017
This week there have been a few surprising moments which have just made my heart soar.
On Monday I introduced the idea of subtracting decimals as a whole class, as everybody had seemed to get adding decimals. It wasn't great - there was too many kids and it just was too much. So on Tuesday, I began my maths lesson by saying 'whoever didn't get subtracting yesterday come with me and we can work on it', and without hesitation a bunch of about 10 kids came to the mat with me.
There was absolutely no sense of embarrassment or shame about not understanding the learning yesterday, and I was honestly surprised. I expected to have to go and get specific students who I knew didn't get it and make them come and practice, but they just came themselves (and it was the same kids I would have picked anyway!). The first part of our mini-lesson was talking about which parts we did get (i.e. mostly subtracting tenths from tenths) and what we didn't get (i.e. when there isn't enough hundredths and we had to exchange).
I was so proud of my students as they shared their weaknesses so openly. They also demonstrated strong metacognitive skill as they thought about their own learning and what they did/didn't understand.
We went through the lesson and by the end they had understood what they didn't yesterday, and then moved onto even harder stuff. They were stoaked, and so was I.
It made me think, how did I create such an awesome classroom culture in 5 weeks? Like, how? What did I do that worked so I can keep doing it?
Another surprising moment was when not one, but multiple students, while working on an independent follow up after being with me using materials, asked to keep using the materials (in those words as well - yay for them using teacher-speak).
As a teacher, I know that using materials is a building block towards being able to do the maths in your head. I always try to use 'teacher-speak' with my students, such as 'using materials' and 'imaging'. When these students came and asked me to use materials because they couldn't image yet, I was so happy. They knew they could do it by themselves (i.e. rather than asking me to do it) and knew what they needed in order to achieve it. I said absolutely!
And there they sat, with a bag of decimats, using them when they reached a question they couldn't yet do in their head.
If they still didn't get it, they would call me over, and I would lay out the decimats without actually explaining it, and just the visual cue was enough for them to click and say 'ooohhh'.
These two moments that happened this week made so happy and proud.
Somehow, I'm not sure how, I have created a class that is self-aware, honest, not afraid of making mistakes and admitting they don't know, independent, who have a growth mindset and would rather get a tool to help them achieve their goal by themselves, rather than asking the teacher directly to explain it. They want to learn, and want to do it themselves. They are active participants in their own learning.
I love my class.