Thanks to everyone who came to the Key Press Ignite Session at NCSM in Philadelphia. I am really looking forward to hearing your responses to the homework prompt:

How did you become the teacher you are today? Specifically, whatmotivatedyou to become that teacher? Whatexperienceshelped you to realize, or at least begin, that process?

Couldn’t make it? Not to worry. Watch the video! You can still do the homework.

Just to make you curious, here’s a little teaser in terms of some folks’ responses to the homework prompt:

**Suzanne:** *Motivation?* Lectured from Dolciani for three years, then raised two kids and watched them learn. *Experiences?* Writing about that learning for John Holt’s journal.

**Arjan:** *Motivation?* I hated being lectured to. I hated learning like that.

**Max:** *Experiences?* It helps that I went to an interesting high school where I saw all sorts of teaching in my classes. And my mom’s a Montessori teacher.

**Geri:** *Motivation?* The Saxon ½ Book. It was so boring! *Experience?* Woodrow Wilson Institutes, especially the collegiality and collaboration.

**Erin:** *Motivation?* The students’ bored faces when I did direct instruction, and watching other teachers lecture and realizing that it was dreadful. *Experiences?* Suzanne walked into my classroom and said, “Try this.”

**Your response here – do your homework and leave a comment!**

Great Ignite! I was particularly interested in the topic. I am currently a high school math teaching specialist in a large urban district. I often ask the teachers how they became who they are, especially those who seem more interested in refining their practices to engage all students. As for me, I can narrow it down to a few students who asked great questions. And I mean incredible questions. In a PreCalc class, there was a student who came about 2-3 days per week. A popular girl who needed cappucino in the morning more than PreCalc. But she liked math and wanted to keep up with it. As we, or more like as I was solving tons of quadratics set equal to zero, she asked, “Why are these equations equal to zero? Could it ever be equal to a different number?” Humbling, just humbling. Once I found out these students would wonder, I just kept giving them the chance. I’d ask myself more and more “What are they thinking and why are they thinking that?” This is definately made me who I am. That is, not the teacher I had in high school and college, but the one who listens for thinking and using it to inform their practice. I’ve come a long way, but wow, there’s always so much more to know and wouldn’t have it any other way. I believe it also takes like minded colleagues to keep me thinking. This is the piece that I have appreciated from math forum!! Thanks for asking…thanks for being there.

Hi, Mary. Thanks for the note. You made some great points! We really encourage teachers to ask students what they “notice” and what they “wonder” – it sounds like those few students you had who asked great questions were doing that on their own! If we do it, we transform not only the students’ experiences in math, but also we learn so much more about our students and the ways in which we teach, and we can spend our energy figuring out what they’re thinking and what we should do now that we know.

motivation: having the 1992 CA Mathematics Framework replaced with the “world-class” standards that took us back to the mind-numbing answers-at-speed & student-sorting mentality of the1950′s

experience(s): weeklong GSP workshop w/Jim King, Park City Math Institute, discovering Zometools and the POW library at the mathforum

motivation: to try to be as good as Rodney St Dizier and Mollie Mae Davidson and Mrs. Thompson, my high School math teachers who started me on this path.

Experiences: 38 years worth of them in the classroom. Passing my love of mathematics to my own children. NCTM National Conferences. I found that teachers from all over have the same problems as I did. Tcubed conferences. Meeting Annie the first time.

Although I have encorporated technology into my classroom I still try to get them not to depend on it, but know when it is necessary or handy. This year for the first time I taught AP Calculus AB, my whole approach was only use the calculator to calculate complex stuff. Know what to do. My students told me they felt very comfortable taking the exam.

I owe a little of what I am to one student, I wish I could remember his name who had moved away and wrote to me about his teacher remarking that we should have covered a topic in a previous class, he reminded me that I skipped that topic. I never want a student to leave my class unprepared for whatever comes next.

Thanks for using a picture of my Algebra I and Geometry Texts on your presentation and for all the POWs over the years.

Gordon Bockus

Wilburton, OK

I’m still working on it. Its much easier to watch a teacher and notice things that I would do differently but I know when I’m teaching its not what I would hope to see.

Annie, my year just ended, and I’m using some of my grading time to surf the web and found you at the NCSM Thank you so much. I discovered Math teaching a long time ago, and it used to be fun when I taught it in 2nd grade. Slowly I went up a grade or two at a time and now I’m in High School.

Now I work in an Algebra support program, for the students who’ve scored in the 45th Percentile or lower. It’s so hard, because I (and they) know that I am “just” prepping them for a test that will allow them to not take Math again. I’ve got a closet full of exploratory “tricks” I was using years ago, that I’ve put aside because I have two class periods a week to fill in all the blanks. I’ve got closets full of manipulatives, computers and texts, but have (or feel I need to) focus on “the test”.

Thank you for reminding me to rediscover wondering… but I’m lost as to how to accomplish the goals through divergent thinking.