Friday, August 2, 2019

#MTBoSBlaugust - Start with Why

This month, I am participating in a blogging challenge called #MTBoSBlaugust.  To read posts from other participants, click on the logo above.

To say this was a busy week might be an understatement :)  I've already posted about the Math Teacher Gathering hosted by my school, but for the rest of the week, I participated in a Summer Symposium on Career Readiness hosted by my Associate Principal.

In the spirit of transparency, I honestly didn't know what to expect out of this workshop.  I had a vague idea of what I believed career readiness was, but I really didn't know what pathway the workshop would take.  I'm still trying to process my take-aways plus I had to miss a day of the workshop due to the Math Gathering, so I know I have some gaps to fill in too. :)

The Symposium was over 3 days - Day 1 focused on the "The Why".  One of our first activities was a Give One Get One on "Why are you here?".  My answer at that point was actually pretty simple - I was there because I was invited.  By the end of the symposium, my why had changed - I want to make better connections with kids and help them figure out their why.

The first morning, we watched a TED Talk by Simon Sinek about the Why, How, and What:

One statement he kept making was "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it."  From a math perspective, this reminds me of Dan Meyer's "If ___ is the aspirin, what is the headache?"  But am I clearly communicating my why to my students, parents, and colleagues?

Me being me, I had to do some more research and found this article from Educational Leadership.  In the article, this quote jumped out at me:

As teachers, when asked about our end goal, most of us would mention that we want our students to be prepared for the real world, to be successful adults.  The problem is, we often don't know how to get there.  We (I) moan and groan about the lack of "soft skills", without taking ownership of the problem and realizing it is part of our job to teach those skills, even at the senior level.  I am just as guilty.  There always seems to be more content to teach and less time to teach it and it's easy to pass the blame rather than take on the challenge.

Last year, I spent the first week of school focusing on problem solving, grit, teamwork, and perserverance thanks to Jo Boaler and the Week of Inspirational Math.  This year, I commit to building more of that into the classroom, more focus on soft skills, and doing my best to focus on helping my students develop as capable and successful young adults.

When we talk about Career Readiness, it truly is about those soft skills.  Don't get me wrong - our students do need content-level knowledge too, but the ability to stick with a problem, work with a team, utilize their resources, communicate effectively - those skills are just as (if not more) valuable than the content.  By helping students develop those skills, we enable them to be successful adults, no matter what career path they choose and no matter what coursework they complete.

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