Posts Tagged 'math education'

The power of “YET”

This is not a carefully crafted post.  As with so many things these days, I’m grabbing a moment to do something that has been rattling around in my head for a while.

This summer I started, and finished in the fall, a MOOC.  A first for me.  The course info came to me from the Assistant Superintendent in my District and since she is my boss in my new coaching gig I thought “Why not?”  The course was from Stanford On-Line, given by math education guru Jo Boaler.  (EDUC115N How to Learn Math to be offered again in the Spring)

Last week I facilitated a group discussion about the course,  attended by 20 teachers who worked on it during the summer.  A great discussion about Growth mindset, brain growth, Common Core, girls in math, the ‘S’ word, …

One of the best conversations was about the word YET.   How often have you heard a student say “I don’t get it.” or “I can’t do this.” or even worse “I’m not good at math.”  If the teacher or the student puts the word yet at the end of those 3 statements the meaning changes; “I don’t get it yet.” , “I can’t do this yet.” , “I’m not good at math yet.” 

Now those laments sound hopeful, positive and motivating. 
 
If we start using that one word with our students we’ll send a powerful message – you can learn and you will learn.  And we’ll start changing attitudes towards learning and math.
 
But as a coach I can see that this doesn’t just apply to students.  I hear the same kind of language from teachers – “My kids can’t do that.”, “CCSSM expects kids to discuss math, students don’t even have the language to do that.”, “This might be easy in K-1 but it won’t work in my 5th grade math class.”   You know the drill – put ‘yet’ at the end of those complaints/comments.   See it’s not so hard. 
I’m struggling a bit with this coaching role – I’m not great at it YET.
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