The NCSSM conference ended around 1 today and my flight back home got cancelled due to snow. Luckily, a former student of mine lives nearby and he graciously has offered his place for me to sleep. We also had a great night out catching up.
I’ve been thinking more about @JustinAion’s quote from a couple of blog posts ago. He said that he only feels like he is teaching when he is answering student questions or going over examples. After the sessions here at NCSSM I am even more committed to fighting that urge – the one that Justin put his finger on. I want to be more invisible, give my students more room. Ask more than tell. I want to analyze their thinking more than their answers. I want to think deeply about their questions and misunderstandings. I hope to get better at this and I’ll report back as I try some new ideas out about how to do this.
A quick aside based on a conversation before one of the sessions. A teacher behind me was talking about his daughter Maya who had recently learned to spell her name reliably. He mentioned that she had also recently learned that her middle name was Sage and she decided that she’d rather be called Sage. She was still spelling her name the same way but she was announcing that she had written Sage now, instead of Maya. I have to imagine that the set of alphabet symbols that we would read as Maya simply read to her as her name. If her name is now Sage, then those symbols mean Sage. I was reminded of my own 4 year old who we call Mo. Over the past five months Mo’s ‘signature’ has evolved from OW to WO to OM to MO. However, whenever she sees something with her name on it she simply says it is hers. She seems to see no difference between them. I wonder how similar this is to some of our students writing down things like (x + y)^2 = x^2 + y^2 and not having any recognition that it does not match anything we’ve written.