Further to my announcement at briefing this morning, if you did not post your response to the question: What does it mean to “pursue academic excellence” in the context of a mathematics classroom? would you please do so now. Your responses are an important part of the CIS/IB special issues report that we are now working very hard on completing (including well into the holidays).
More importantly though, the answer to this question is something to which we all must be able to give a response. This is really quite a significant matter. If we do not have an opinion on this question, or if we are unable to articulate what excellence in our classroom looks like, then this will have serious repercussions upon the performance of our students. I suppose, to put it honestly, how can we expect our students to know what their best efforts means, or what striving for excellence means, if their teacher is unable to articulate it. How do we know if we are an effective teacher if we are unable to say what an effective teacher actually does to make them effective?
The teacher that pursues academic excellence for their students will be characterised by certain behaviours and attitudes, both in preparing for class and in their actions towards the students in their care. But what exactly are these behaviours and actions of the teacher? Once we have what these are well established in our minds, only then are we able to explain to students what they need to be doing in order to be making their best and most effective efforts – ie pursuing academic excellence themselves. The starting point for the pursuit of academic excellence in our classrooms then is ourselves. This applies no matter how long we have been teaching. The teacher who claims to be an effective teacher simply based upon how long they have been in a classroom is, to be blunt, deluding themselves and short changing their students. I hope no one finds that statement offensive because I absolutely include myself in that statement and I have been scratching on the blackboard … oops … whiteboard, for a quarter of a century now and I am continually looking for way to improve my instruction … I have to do so and our students deserve no less. Every single one of us needs to regularly ask ourselves what sort of teacher we are being for our students, NO EXCEPTIONS. In this we also need to rely upon each other for feedback and good ideas, because we will all have good ideas that can make maths a more enjoyable and effective learning experience for the children in our care. In the end it is primarily maths teachers who can give the best support to other maths teachers .. we are all, after all, in the exactly same boat. I don’t know about you, but building a better boat together sounds a lot more fun and productive than baling water by myself! 🙂
So we feel that us all answering this question, collectively as a domain, is an important exercise. It is even more important than any reports that it might contribute towards. So PLEASE include your response on the blog.
As it is, with the number of responses so far, it appears that it will be necessary next year to spend quite a bit of PD time discussing, something we had hoped that this exercise would have allowed us to avoid. It is very important that we are able to answer this question. 🙂
To post your response please go to the post dated 23/10, then click the “comments” link and post your response to the questions.
A big thank you to those who have already responded (remember that if you want to add more to any of existing responses you can do so at any time).