If You Build It They Will Come

I have no idea why but 8 days into a new school year and I feel like this quote from Field of Dreams best describes what we have going on.

My collaborating teacher and I knew that we would have our work cut out for us this year teaching two collaborative classes. Both classes are filled with students who hate math, students who have been taught that they can’t do math and believe they aren’t as smart as the other students in the school. Although I realize we still have a long way to go it has been amazing to watch their mindsets change in the few days we have spent with them.

 How to Learn Math for Students

We made the choice over the summer to have the kids go through Jo Boaler’s How to Learn Math for Students course. WOW. I can’t say enough about this course. The kids love the videos and they are really buying into what Jo is saying about math ability and growth mindsets. Their reflections on the videos have been beautiful to read, just a few of the comments thus far have been:

“I never knew everyone could be good at math”

“I know I am not bad at math I just had a bad experience”

“Anyone can learn math”


And those are just a handful out of many more like them. I am so excited to see how their growth mindset continues to develop as a result of this course.

Skill and Drill No More 

Equally as important has been a shift in our classroom warm-ups thanks to the MTBOS. I will not lie I was one of those terrible drill and skill warm-up teachers before this year. However I spent all summer pouring through blogs and reading everything that came out of the TMC 14 conference to figure out a better way to engage kids in math. I settled on Estimation 180, Math Talks, Counting Circles, Would You Rather, Visual Patterns and Find the Mistake along with a weekly reflection.   This one shift has probably had the biggest impact on the class. From the moment they enter my students are engaged in high level math and having deep discussions that we rarely had before.  I will make another post just on the warm-ups later!


What I Know

We are eight days in and I can’t guarantee you that every child will master every 7th grade standard or that every child will leave as a mathematician. Here is what I do know though:

Kids that have never enjoyed math come into the room smiling

Kids that said on the first day that math was their least favorite subject wrote on their first weekly reflection that is was their favorite class

Kids that always failed every quiz passed our first one with a B or better.


Maybe it has just been 8 days but it has been the most beautiful 8 days of my teaching career.


4 thoughts on “If You Build It They Will Come

    • Thanks! I will post more about the warm-ups this weekend (I wanted to get one more week of the kids reflections before I shared) but it is seriously went from the worst 5 minutes of class to be best! I believe I “borrowed” some ideas from your blog for it too so thank you!

  1. You always have very insightful blog entries. Warmups have always been a source of weakness for me and I am trying to work on it. I know we are in two different areas but I would like to talk with you more about how you do your warmups.

    • Thank you so much Patrick. We are loving our warm-ups and the culture they have created in our class. I would be glad to talk with you anytime. Much of what we are doing could be recreated anywhere.

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