Educated Risks: Getting Out of the Teaching Comfort Zone

A guest post by Ashley Porter

7th-grade math teacher, Webster Groves School District, Missouri

Imagine Learning now publishes monthly guest posts in order to stimulate conversations about K12 education across the country. Opinions expressed herein are those of the individual author and may not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Imagine Learning.

 

comfort zone, Imagine Learning, math, other subjectsThink back to the college years when you were choosing your major. Education? Check. As to age group, you would have noted four basic categories: early childhood, elementary, middle, or high school students. Each had its merits, but you could only pick one. Check.

I chose the math path–middle school first, followed by high school math later. I decided on math because it was in my comfort zone. That’s what most middle school and high school teachers do; they choose the area they’re most comfortable with. Yay! No more science, world studies, or English for me, right?

My first teaching assignment was at a high school, teaching all levels of algebra. There was a big push, as there should be, to get students to graduate on time. Some teachers were assigned as “graduation coaches,” and I was one of them.

It was my job to work with students, build a relationship, help them catch up, and get them to a timely graduation. These students were struggling, behind on credits, and risked not graduating at all (or certainly not on time). So, as a graduation coach, I was encouraged to help students in all their areas of struggle.

At this point, I received some of the best advice I ever got as an educator. Read more »

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Myth or Truth? Accepting Cultural Differences for a Global Mindset

A guest post by Deborah Cochran

ESOL Teacher for grades K-5 at Craig Elementary School, Parkway School District in St. Louis, MO

Imagine Learning now publishes monthly guest posts in order to stimulate conversations about K12 education across the country. Opinions expressed herein are those of the individual author and may not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Imagine Learning.

*The following article is an updated version of a prior post by the author.

 

Multiculturalism is a hot topic in education today; just ask any teacher.

As more multicultural students enter the classroom, educators have to continually challenge old ways of thinking about culture. But where to start?

Like it or not, most assumptions about other cultures arise from cultural stereotypes or complete myths. And debunking those myths is an important first step when entering the pathway to a global mindset.

Multicultural celebration, Cochran, Imagine This, global

Read more »

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Can Technology Stimulate Mental Development in Young Children?

A guest post by Dr. Eugene Emmer, medical entrepreneur and author

Imagine Learning now publishes monthly guest posts in order to stimulate conversations about K12 education across the country. Opinions expressed herein are those of the individual author and may not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Imagine Learning.

 

lab rat, enriched environment, brain research, learning, hippocampus, Imagine As a physiologist and parent, I have long been interested in the impact of early childhood education on the child’s developing brain.

Over the years, an increasing number of scientists have devoted lab research to brain development and function. Their findings are not only fascinating, they also show how important proper stimulation is for the developing brain.

For example, years ago I read an intriguing study that demonstrated a marked increase in hippocampal neurons in adult mice living in an enriched environment.

Basically, the study showed that young rats raised in a stimulating environment had better-developed brains than rats raised in unstimulating environments.

During this study, scientists raised two groups of rats. One group lived in an enriched environment that included toys, tunnels, wheels, and so on; the other group was raised in an empty cage with only food.

Scientists showed that the rats raised in the enriched environment developed more hippocampal neurons than the rats raised in an empty cage. The stimulating environment had developed each rat’s young brain much the same way that lifting weights develops muscle. Read more »

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Math Teachers Who Undermine Math Fact Memorization

A guest post by Ben Harrison

Developer of Big Brainz math-fact fluency software

Imagine Learning now publishes monthly guest posts in order to stimulate conversations about K12 education across the country. Opinions expressed herein are those of the individual author(s) and may not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Imagine Learning.

The following article was originally posted in February, 2015 on the Big Brainz Blog.

 

Teacher and student, Imagine Learning, guest author, Ben Harrison, math fluency, math facts, math memorization, single-digit, common core, math advisory panel, Big BrainzEvery once in a while I encounter a savvy educator who is opposed to memorizing math facts–or at least he or she appears to be.

Just today I saw a fearful article that exclaimed “memorization can inhibit fluency” and “memorization . . . can be damaging.”

Of course, educators are doing a wonderful job of championing number sense, comprehension, and problem-solving, but by attacking the vital skill of automaticity, they unwittingly undermine the very processes they intend to champion.

From Where I Sit

Before I go any further, let me jump to the punchline, because I know that if you’re one of these educators, you’re already getting ready to give me your very passionate point of view.

So . . . if, as an educator, you have a negativity towards memorization, I would suggest that it’s because you haven’t seen it done well. Read more »

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