Doing Something Right

By: Mary Kienstra on: March 22, 2014  in: #tlap, Engagement, feedback, inspiration, Math   2 Comments

Two essentials for performing at your best are inspiration and feedback.  This past week, I was fortunate enough to have large doses of each.  It was quite a week!  I feel like I must be doing something right.

From time to time we all need inspiration.  We need inspiration when things get boring or routine.  Sometimes inspiration just reminds us to keep striving, keep working to be the best.  Sometimes it hits us over the head and causes us to change course completely. 
Inspiration comes in many forms, but this week my inspiration came from Dave Burgess, the author of Teach Like A Pirate.  Dave spoke to our school staff at an in-service day of professional development.  I’ve heard Dave speak before, but this time was better.  I am recharged, re-energized, and ready to work to make my lessons even more engaging for my students.  One of our school’s improvement goals is to engage all students in learning.  Dave struck a chord as he presented many ways to do just that.  Teachers at our school are buzzing about Dave’s presentation and even the most “stuck in their ways” teachers are talking about what they might try to increase student engagement.  I’m looking forward to the discussions our staff will have around Dave’s presentation and his book.  I feel like we are just on the cusp of greatness.

This was a big week for feedback too, as we held parent teacher conferences last week.  As I give feedback to parents about their child’s work in my class, I get feedback about what they think about my class.  Even teachers need feedback to know things are going well… or not so well. In this case, I know students enjoy my classes.  Their smiles and enthusiasm truly show that.  But to hear their grateful parents express that was very affirming.  
Some of my favorite quotes were, “He just loves your class!”  “I am so surprised at how much she loves math!” “He loves all the games in math class!”  “We hear all about Kakooma (www.gregtangmath.com) every week – that is the highlight of her week.” 
What my students see as games and fun are what I see as learning and practicing math concepts.  Those “games” are well-designed and organized so that the learning is interesting and engaging.  Who says math has to be difficult or boring?  With my inspiration from Teach Like A Pirate, I am working to create an environment where students see math as fun and engaging.  They work hard because they want to do well, for themselves and for each other too.

Not every week can be as exciting as this past week was. Thankfully.  As I look over my plans for this next week and the following weeks, I know that I’m inspired to continue to engage my students in new ways.  And with the feedback from parents and students, I know that I am doing something right.  


  2 comments   Comment

  1. 8 years ago  

    Dave Burgess

    Great post, Mary! It was a pleasure to come an speak to the Beebe staff last week. I also loved hanging out with Christina, Chuck, and you at dinner and having some great BBQ and even better company!

    • 8 years ago  

      Mary Kienstra

      Thanks for the kind words, Dave! Hope you’ll let us know next time you get to the Chicago area. We’re always ready for a good meal with a true pirate. Looking forward to more inspiration and ideas.

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