A couple of weeks ago I got the chance to observe another math teacher in the school where I’m Teacher Assisting in. After being in the same classroom all semester, it was interesting to get a new perspective of how other teachers conduct their classroom, especially those in the same content area. One of the things I wanted to do was find out what his beliefs were about teaching, learning, and doing mathematics. To do this, the teacher I observed filled out this survey:
From here, I was primed to observe his classroom. The class started with music playing in the background while students were doing a warm-up from the book. The environment was playful, as he would sing along but change the lyrics to tell students individually what they needed to do. The classroom management style was a bit more relaxed than what I was used to in my own classroom. Students were talking during the warm up and there was a medium noise level in the classroom. After the warm-up, the teacher conducting “good news” with the students. This allowed for a friendly environment in the classroom. After this, the students were reviewing for a quiz the next day. For review, the teacher picked out homework problems from the book to work on in pairs. Each student had a whiteboard, and when they were finished with the problem they would hold up their whiteboard for the teacher to see. He would then either tell them, “yes” or “no.” This was used as a formative assessment for him and a review for the students. The students seemed very eager to share their answers and to get the right answer. If they were wrong the first time, they would quickly erase their answer and try again. The teacher would often ask the excelling students to help the struggling students around them. This went on for the rest of the class period as review.
It was extremely beneficial for me to observe this classroom and the teaching style that this teacher used. Not only was I able to gain some strategies to implement into my own teaching, but I was also able to gain insight on things that I do similarly or differently and might want to change about my own teaching after looking at it from an outside perspective. Every teacher has a different approach to orchestrating mathematics, and they each have their own reasons for doing it this way. It was very interesting to see a teacher use more of a lecture approach during the warm-up, versus someone like my CT who demonstrates and models how to do mathematics on the white board or ELMO. Although I might think that one strategy is better than the other, it is important for me to remember that some students might learn better other ways. I will keep this in mind while teaching in my future classroom.
“The older I got, the smarter my teachers became.”