I was recently invited to be a guest speaker on a Big Marker Webinar hosted by the Global Math Department, which by the way have loads of lovely mathematics education related webinars you should check out here. You can access my webinar here, the presentation slides here, and find a LIST OF THINKING CLASSROOM LINKS HERE. I’ve also created a Thinking Classroom Twitter List that includes anyone who expressed interest in learning about #thinkingclassroom practices and those who post about it.
This experience was reifying for me because I got to organize all the experiences I’ve had over the past number of years spending time with Dr. Peter Liljedahl, implementing the researched findings in my own classes, and delivering professional development sessions to both pre-service and in-service teachers. I’ve written about my journey towards a ‘thinking classroom’ here, and I have become more and more convinced that making these seemingly small shifts in my classroom over the years (from horizontal whiteboards to vertical whiteboards, from autonomous grouping to visibly random grouping, from assigned homework/videos to suggested ‘check your understanding’ opportunities, etc.) have made an impact on both my students and myself as a teacher. These seemingly small and obvious tools have actually affirmed my instinctual beliefs about the fundamental philosophies of education as something that happens in the learner through immersive experiences and through communication with others. There is no teaching without learning. These shifts in practice have afforded me the opportunity to see the learning, and since it is more visible to me, I can nurture it in-the-moment.
I would also add that having the opportunity to see other incredible teachers implement these ideas has been the most powerful learning tool for me, as it helped me see how it’s very important to hold true to yourself within the framework – the framework is not a recipe, it’s a set of constraints that actually frees you as a teacher. I’ve also learned that when others learn about ‘thinking classrooms’, they often see it as ‘just whiteboards’, and sometimes as either a free-for-all or a recipe for an activity to do once in a while. It is neither of these things. It’s actually a new way of being. But I did not arrive at that conclusion until tinkering with little elements over five years. You can only try one thing at a time. When we feel discomfort, we know something is changing, but also that something needs to change, so we readjust.