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  • Writer's pictureDr. Kristen Mattson

Math Never Changes – Why Should I?

I have been working with several Algebra 1 teachers on flipping their classrooms. One of their non-flipped colleagues walked into the office and said, “I don’t know why you guys spend so much time on this stuff. I will never change what I do because math never changes.” We all chuckled politely as the man passed through, and then we went back to work.

Of course I began reflecting on that moment as soon as it was over. What should I have said? Did he have a valid point? Would this team, that has been working so hard to change, take his words to heart and give-up? If I could take that moment back, I would stop this teacher and let him know how I agree with him. Math doesn’t change. But my words wouldn’t stop with that sentence. I can imagine our dialogue starting something like this:

Math doesn’t change, but our students do. So does our society, our technology, our needs and our wants as individuals. If all educators took your stance, Algebra 1 students would still be using the abacus and elementary school students would be learning to read a sundial! Flipped learning may not be the answer for your classroom, but neither is being stagnant. I am so grateful for my PLN on Twitter, in my graduate courses, and in the colleagues we work with each day. Each group continues to challenge my thinking, push me to try the new and innovative, and help me be the lifelong learner I want our students to be. Anytime you are up for an experiment – let me know! I will have your back, just like others have had mine, and we can learn together.

I am blessed to be in a school with so many teachers who are willing to think outside of the box and try something new, to take a risk and be vulnerable in front of their students. These teachers are easy to mentor and work with. As a relatively new instructional coach, my challenge lies in the naysayers – those who aren’t so willing to expose their weaknesses or ask for help, those that hide their insecurities behind outdated philosophies and closed doors. Letting these teachers know that I am available for them on their terms, when they are ready, might be the seed I can nurture as our relationship grows.

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