Deep in my professional heart, I am a math teacher. Right now I am in higher education but I got my start in the middle school. Part of my job has been and will be teaching how to teach math, through methods courses and professional development. I enjoy this work, but really I am happiest when I am teaching mathematics, not when I am teaching about teaching mathematics.
My favorite part of this other aspect of my job (the teaching about teaching mathematics aspect) is having professional conversations about teaching and learning. I don’t enjoy being the expert. I do enjoy trying out new ideas and hearing how others think about mathematics, and about teaching and learning mathematics.
Ultimately, I have more to say than any one person ever wants to hear so I am starting a blog. I can talk and others who are interested can listen.
I write for publication, but I have more to say than any one journal probably wants to publish so I am starting a blog. I can try out my short-form ideas and decide which are worth sending on to other, more formal venues.
I come into contact with hundreds of current and future teachers every year through my courses, my conference presentations and professional development workshops. I often think about conversations I have had with these teachers long afterwards, but I have no way of following up with them so I am starting a blog. I hope to invite others into these conversations.
In the coming weeks, I’ll write about some of my current activities, including Connected Mathematics (CMP) workshops, my new job at Normandale Community College and my recent work at Minnesota State University, Mankato. I hope to write weekly and to attract readers who will share their ideas and constructive criticism. So set a bookmark for christopherdanielson.wordpress.com and let me know what you think.
Chris – you have inspired me to do the same thing – but a little differently and with a little different focus – so thanks for the push – which really is what teaching is about – and enjoy my push-back at mdaunis.wordpress.com!
Interesting thing about teaching mathematics and teaching about teaching mathematics….I find that I can no longer separate them. I think I do best teaching about teaching mathematics through teaching mathematics. My AMTE presentation this year is how students (preservice teachers) have caught the pedagogy in surprising ways through their learning experiences in a math content course. And in methods classes, I can’t help but using the lens of learning specific mathematics to learn the methods and strategies. Even the business and biology students I had in a gen ed statistics course last year ended up with a good dose of how to teach mathematics and the ratiouale for it – and they never complained!
I often give my non-math-ed students a bit of my thinking about the teaching I am doing. Mine tend not to complain either; it’s unclear to me whether and how they benefit. I have some hypotheses, but no evidence. I do believe they benefit by understanding the ‘why’ behind my instructional decisions-they are better able to construct the storyline of the course when they know why we are doing what we are doing. And I believe that I force myself to make better decisions when I make them public. And whatever their future field, the example of applying critical thinking skills to one’s profession is a positive one to offer. But perhaps I am only justifying my own navel gazing. I’m not sure.
One thing that I know is relevant to your situation, Teresa, is that I realized this year how important it is for math educators to teach math content courses to people not involved in becoming teachers. In my new position I taught college algebra for the first time-a general math course. And I was reminded of the challenges of changing how we teach mathematics on a large scale-and even on a small scale. I struggled quite a bit with my textbook. If I struggle for a semester, with my substantial experience, knowledge base and training, then what of my methods students as they head into student teaching and new jobs in schools that don’t have the cultural and curricular support for change?