Miss. Hillary Strain

Article Response

Read the journal article entitled Understanding change through a high school mathematics teacher’s journey to inquiry-based teaching, by Chapman & Heater (2010) (full article is provided in pdf under this link on UR Courses). Discuss the article’s focus on teacher change in relation to:

1) What/how you are learning about inquiry in this course (through your readings, our class activities, lesson planning, and lesson teaching)

My thoughts on teacher change has altered throughout my years in the Education program here in Regina.  When I first entered the program, I thought I had the perfect way to teach marked in my head based on the experiences that I have had.  Yet, each new semester and year I have taken many classes, learnt many different opinions and techniques from my profs and/or my coop teacher that have made me realize that there is more than just one way of teaching.  These opportunities have opened my mind to seeing change in teaching as a good thing but some may not always be open for this change. “It requires not only a desire by the teacher to change but also the belief that alternatives that are more beneficial are possible” (pg. 456). We must keep our students in mind while we are changing our teaching methods to help suit their needs as well.

When I first entered University, my views of teaching mathematics was very similar to Brea’s.  From my experiences, I believed that mathematics should be easy for everyone to learn, that it should be broken down into easy steps for students to follow and there would be no difficulties. My teachers tried their hardest to make our math lessons easy to understand and follow.  Like Brea mentioned in the article, they would “make math simple into little bits so the students could consume it and regurgitate it” (pg. 450).  Since this is all I experienced in my pre-university days, this is what I believed that I should do as a future math teacher as well.  I have taken many courses that have opened my mind towards different ways of teaching, especially in EMTH350.  This class is teaching me to have a more open mind towards inquiry based learning.  During high school, I was never exposed to this process of learning and I am finding that there are many different ways to approach this process.  The first inquiry based activity we did in class was trying to understand radian measure through a concrete representation. This allowed me to experience first hand what an inquiry base activity is and allowed me to experience the lightbulb moment that one will have when they figure out the process they are trying to learn.  After completing the activity, I realized that it is very important for teachers to provide students with any opportunities, activities and questions to allow them to explore the topic whether it is related to what they are learning or not.  Inquiry is based on allowing your students to “question, explore,…,and generalize in learning high school mathematics” (pg. 455). Now that I have been exposed to this way of teaching, I believe that I can branch off of the simple way of teaching and try and experience new opportunities to share.

2) How/if the ideas in the article challenge or affirm your beliefs about mathematics teaching & learning (as described in your blog entry 2 creed).

Now that I have experienced many classes that have had influence in my beliefs of teaching, I believe that the article has made me realize that what I posted last week is true. Particularly the last creed I wrote: I believe that mathematics is a challenging subject, but in the long run it can be one of the most rewarding.  The concept of inquiry is to not only meant to challenge students but to make them realize that they can discover answers on their own and not always need guidance. In the article, Brea states: ” I want my students to understand that mathematics is not simple, that it is complex and complicated, that it does exist in the world, that it is a ‘living discipline’, that it has bloodlines” (pg. 450). This sentence affirms that students will have challenges during their process of inquiring learning, or even learning mathematics in general, but from that they will grow and their minds will develop.  The difficulties and challenges that they will experience while learning mathematics will allow them to see even though it is a school subject, that learning something and finally understanding a concept and be one of the best feelings in the world.

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