There are many great initiatives that the TDSB supports throughout the year. It’s impossible to attend them all, but on Tuesday morning, I had the opportunity to attend a math workshop that had been planned by our Ward 8 Council and funded by a grant from the Ministry of Education. The intention of the session was to bring parents, teachers and administrators together to discuss insights and ideas about the teaching and learning of mathematics. Allenby had a full table of nine participants with our math leads: Mr. Roberts, Ms. Payne and Mr. Hussain; our two administrators: Mrs. O’Toole and Ms. Larosa, and four Allenby parent representatives.
The speaker, Professor Trevor Brown demonstrated his love of math by providing us with almost two hours of passionate and engaging dialogue on math. He acknowledged that teaching math from a problem-solving perspective is harder than traditional teaching. It takes more time, training and experience. He shared his belief that the advantages of approaching math from a problem solving perspective outweigh the disadvantages that will eventually be overcome.
His first question to us was “Who has read a book on math recently?” And, even though I like math and I understand its importance, it had never occurred to me that I should read about it. A few participants shared the titles of childrens’ math-oriented books, but that was it. Professor Brown suggested that we all read, What’s Math Got To Do With It? by Jo Boaler. He also suggested we consult websites like Canadian Math Kangaroo and NRICH.Maths.org.
As a parent, I acknowledge that it’s hard to break away from the “way we were taught math” mindset, and I am guilty of always coming back to times tables and rote learning. The math workshop moved my thinking along as the ideas that Professor Brown presented were very interesting and inspiring. He showed us that math learning doesn’t have to be pencil to paper and that math can be fun. I learned that the way our kids are learning math can’t always be demonstrated through homework or the completed worksheets you might be shown at a parent teacher interview.
It was clear that the purpose of the workshop was not to attend, listen and walk away. Our group from Allenby plans to meet again to discuss what we learned from the workshop with the intention of building on the math teaching and learning that is happening at our school. In addition to our students’ learning, I am interested in investigating how teachers think we as parents can support this type of learning at home and how we can be better informed on how learning is happening in the classroom.
If you have any thoughts on math learning, please don’t hesitate to share them with me.