Wow, I have been so out of touch! The past three weeks have been quite full and exhausting. Has it only been three weeks? Seems like several months. I’m missing interacting on twitter and writing in my blog.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time going over the K-5 CCSS Math standards. While I have spent quite a bit of time in the high school standards, I have never really paid much attention to the elementary ones. Unfortunately, like others I’m sure, I didn’t think they applied to me. I am beginning to see that they really do, I mean, of course they do now, but even as a secondary educator, the elementary standards are the foundation of what my students are supposed to be learning. If they aren’t learning these things, then when they come into the secondary classroom, they aren’t prepared for what they are going to be exposed to, and may have quite a bit of difficulty succeeding in their secondary math classes. Duh, right?!? Or is it?

Are students really learning what they need to at the elementary level, and if so, where are the difficulties at the secondary level originating? There are so many questions I am beginning to have, and so many things that I realize I really don’t know. I can tell you one thing, elementary teachers love their students, love teaching them, and want to do a great job at it, just like most of the secondary teachers I know. One thing I have noticed right away, they don’t give up on kids, at all. Every single kid that walks into their room deserves their very best, and they work hard to be sure kids get just that.

I am finding that I am getting mixed reactions to stepping into this position. Many of the elementary teachers are excited that they have someone who “really gets math” to work with. Some are concerned that I don’t get elementary level kids. A few are just keeping quiet. I understand the reactions, I have taught high school kids, and we all know that high school kids aren’t really kids, right? And we secondary teachers don’t think that elementary kids can explain their thinking and reason at a deep level, right?

I’m looking forward to this new learning challenge. I have a lot to learn, and I am excited to do this learning. I am looking forward to adding a new set of educators to my PLN, and stretching myself in the process. I hope that the teachers I will be working with will see something valuable that I bring to the table also. I do feel like together we can create a wonderful learning space for kids, and I believe that I can offer something to the elementary kids just like I created some great learning for the high school kids.

And yes, they are all kids, just like us.

I would say that difficulties arise whenever another teacher, parent or kid’s motivation to learn falters. It is funny that we teach them the hardest subjects when they are at their most skeptical and least receptive phases of their lives.

It’s so interesting to me that you perceive the elementary school teachers never giving up on their kids – which implies that secondary teachers do (I’m not challenging that, because I see it all the time, and I know that I’ve gotten to the point during some semesters where I have to make the decision where to best focus my energies). Is it because the younger children seem to be all full of promise, as opposed to older children already having layers/years of misunderstanding heaped on them? Or is it that there are so many fewer of them – I have 170 each term; an elementary school teacher has one classful for an entire year. I’m wondering what your take on that is, and what you will see throughout the course of the year. It sounds so exciting – keep posting!

I also find that interesting and have the same questions myself. There is an energy about the elementary students that doesn’t always seem to exist in high school kids, but I still would like to believe and hope that we see the promise in the high school students too. I, too, have found myself making priority decisions in the high school classroom that I hate to have to make.

The number of students could be a large factor. Believe me, I’ll be watching closely, and I’m sure I’ll be coming up with more questions as some are answered. Thanks for walking this with me.