The story of your learning journey as a teacher is important. Teacher learning stories remind us that teaching is a craft which is developed, not an innate ability. Stories of our professional learning journeys serve as a source of inspiration for early-career teachers who still feel awkward in their instructional practice. When we share our professional learning stories we engage in teacher leadership by building a school-wide growth-mindset culture and celebrating teaching as a learning profession.
Here’s my story about a professional-learning experience which was pivotal in my career.
I attended my first Marilyn Burns course 35 years ago. This week-long professional learning experience immersed me in learning mathematics through problem solving investigations. I was given the opportunity to make sense of mathematical ideas with the support of models, tools, and lots of conversation. I had a number of important insights that week which would shape the course of my work in the classroom, but I vividly remember these two take-aways:
- For the first time in my life I really understood fractional numbers.
- I couldn’t wait until the start of the new school year so I could offer my students these same types of learning experiences! I was empowered to help my students understand mathematical ideas at a deep level and to introduce them to the joy and wonder of mathematics.
This amazing course transformed my relationship with mathematics. It was a starting point for my commitment to help teachers strengthen their relationships with mathematics and their identities as math learners so that they, in turn, could do the same for students.
I still have the worn copy of the course book from this session which I used regularly until About Teaching Mathematics was published. Although the cover of this old friend is torn and pages are loose, I keep this book as a reminder of the impact this professional learning experience had on my development as a teacher.
- What is experiences have been significant in your journey as a mathematics learner and teacher?
- How could sharing your learning stories encourage other teachers to envision their own potential and invest in their own learning?
- What types of professional learning experiences might you provide for the teachers you work with to spark their enthusiasm for learning and teaching mathematics?