When I have a few extra minutes I love to read Brian Bushart's blog posts (https://bstockus.wordpress.com/) or at the very least, check out his tweets on Twitter. His handle is @bstockus. One of the things that make me crazy is all the conflicting information out there. Even sources I truly respect are sometimes in conflict. We have so little time with our students to get it right that it is stressful when what we trust in our hearts is true is not always in complete sync with what we're asked to do in the classroom. My colleagues and I struggle with this. It has been especially hard for the last four to five years while our district has adopted one curriculum after the next. None are really aligned with what we believe as educators. Actually, these curriculums are not even aligned with what the administrators who facilitated their purchase seem to value. It makes for some very complicated and stressful decision making.
I just read Brian's post on his time with Kathy Richardson. She is an expert in math learning in the primary grades. In his post Brian writes that he is experiencing a little bit of a "crisis" because Kathy's expertise (which is trusted) is in conflict with the math standards Brian and his teachers are charged with meeting in grades K-2. Kathy asserts that the standards are not realistic given where many students are at developmentally in grades K-2. Brian is struggling with the idea that we're all charged with meeting the standards yet he knows how important it is to not rush our students. We all know that when kids are rushed to tackle content before they're ready, gaps are created that will need to be addressed in the future when some other teacher uncovers a less than strong foundation. The rush job sets our kids up for a stressful relationship with math versus a playful relationship.
I feel for Brian but man is it refreshing to see that teacher leaders I regard as my math heroes are not just cruising along. It is simply not just me. It is not just my fantastic team of reflective colleagues and me. It is many of us. Even the superheroes are struggling to figure it all out.
If you're not following Brian on Twitter, make it a priority to check him out. His work with Numberless Word Problems is truly awesome and his blog posts always push my thinking. Also, consider joining an elementary math chat. They're held on Thursday nights on Twitter. Check out the hashtag #elemmathchat and consider becoming part of the conversation where Brian and many other incredible teacher leaders push us to think deeper and be better for our students.
It is not just me or us...it is them too, the really great thinkers, who are still figuring it out. I'm glad to have such amazing company.