Mathematical Mindsets, lessons from a book study with teachers

In the midst of all the back to school action 21 brave Math teachers and coaches joined together to do an online book study, now 4+ weeks into the school year we are wrapping things up.  This was our second and largest group to participate in reading Jo Boaler’s Mathematical Mindsets book, and the outcomes have been inspirational.  We have read other books but something about Boaler’s book connects to everyone and their experiences, and pushes us to think about our teaching practices and improving upon them.  With permission we share a few closing quotes from some of our fabulous Region 13 area Math teachers.

“My favorite part of this book was the focus on allowing students to fail forward. A quote in this chapter that stood out to me in relation to this was, “There is always some logic in students’ thinking, and it is good to find it, not so that we avoid the failure idea, but so that we honor students’ thinking.” We need to be willing to see the why behind students’ mistakes to connect with their thinking before we try to guide them to a new approach.”  Tara Burgess, Instructional Coach Farley MS Hutto ISD

“The best part of this book was that it opened my mind to seeing math as more of an art than as a procedural thing. I have started to open my way of thinking to see that not all students have to follow the “steps” to be successful. I need to be open to getting them to think more than to just have them know the steps.”  Jason Henke, 8th Grade Math, Wallace MS, Hays CISD

“I really enjoyed reading this book a more than I originally anticipated. It spoke in very practical terms and the overall arching message was one that I could connect with. It has inspired me to reach my students on a deeper level by constantly instilling in them aspects of the growth mindset. I’ve learned to be more vulnerable with them and to take more chances to help them to connect with the content. As the book mentioned, we live in a society where it is socially acceptable to say “I’m not good at math.” We’ve all heard this statement multiple times and so it’s to no surprise that the US is behind so many on other nations in student achievement in math. This book inspired me to do my part to change this paradigm by getting students out of the fixed mind set and to accept the truth of the growth mindset.”  Max Hargrove, 7th Grade Math, Hopewell MS, Round Rock ISD

“I am going to try to value depth more than speed this year. It’s not that I really care how fast kids can do their work. I don’t, because I am not someone who does math quickly. It’s just that with the time constraints of a 45 minute class period, I tend to let the kids answer that do math quickly. I’m not good at allowing for extra wait time, because I need to get through the lesson. Not sure how this will work yet, but I will try.”  Cortney Strickland, Algebra I Lexington HS, Lexington ISD

“It has been four weeks since school has started, and I have noticed that my students are more attentive to their peers as they ask questions or share their learning. They are getting better at communicating mathematically and helping those who are unable to. They realize that they share a common goal: to learn together. This book has really help put that mindset into place in my classroom. Thank you Boaler for the book!”  Krystal Nguyen, 8th Math and Algebra I, Walsh MS, Round Rock ISD

“I need to show the students more of the value of depth over speed. I also need to teach with cool technology and manipulatives. Last year I was in 7th grade and kept thinking, they used manipulatives last year, they should be drawing and moving to algorithms, but I kept realizing later how they could have done something better with the manipulative.”  Heather Bristol, 7th Grade Math, Covington MS, Austin ISD

“It’s all about the attitude and processes that student can apply to solve a problem. It is not necessary that they have to be successful, but there is plenty of learning that happens in not being successful also. It is the effort and motivation to succeed that matters. Learning math and life is very similar according to me. It’s just one problem-solving scenario after the other. You try, you fail, you learn and try again and you might succeed.”  Jharna Bhatt, 8th Math and Algebra I, Walsh MS, Round Rock ISD


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