Faculty Professional Development: Growing our Math Minds

Our youngest students are forming ideas about math through everyday experiences and, most importantly, through interactions with trusted adults. During our October 7th PD day toddler teachers Katie and Erica research inspiring ideas for promoting numeracy development in their classroom.

Our youngest students are forming ideas about math through everyday experiences and, most importantly, through interactions with trusted adults. During our October 7th PD day toddler teachers Katie and Erica research inspiring ideas for promoting numeracy development in their classroom.

What happens when math and a growth mindset meet? Magic!

This year Breakwater teachers, from toddler through 8th grade, are taking a deep look at math with this goal: that our faculty will gain a common, school-wide understanding about how math literacy develops and what practices best support this development.

We consider our curricula to be a living, growing expression of knowledge, beliefs, well-researched best practices, and values that, as stated in our Mission, we continually review and refine.

Teachers began this year’s math "deep dive" by examining how we learn, teach and support growth in math with a three hour session during our professional development week at the end of August. Faculty will continue to engage in furthering this learning during professional development days, in independent study - and in our classrooms where the children are always our best teachers. We are looking forward to sharing what we learn with families, students, and our community by putting our knowledge and ideas into practice all year. 

As part of our learning, faculty are exploring a number of digital and print resources about the development of mathematical understanding, and about the exciting recent research in neuroscience that is informing best practices in mathematical pedagogy. Teachers are inspired by the work of Dr. Jo Boaler at Stanford (watch her great TED Talk here) and Dr. Carol Dweck. Dr. Dweck researches “growth mindset” - the idea that we can grow our brain's capacity to learn and to solve problems. In this talk, she describes two ways to think about a problem that’s slightly too hard for you to solve.

So much of what both of these researchers discuss is seen in our school model. Breakwater is grounded in the principles of collaborative relationships, mistake making, and play, as powerful pathways to learning. We already understand and integrate development in the learning dispositions of curiosity and perseverance. All of these values will remain central to our methods as we work this year to better our ability to connect these traits directly to mathematical thinking and skill building.