My name is Laura Lee. I am a middle school math teacher and for the last year and a half I have been a serial MTBoS stalker. I surf the internet like I backpack the woods of northern Minnesota–enjoy the scenery, use the resources, leave no trace.
I have a Twitter account and have, on occasion, thought about starting my own blog, especially after Kate Nowak’s “Every Teacher a Blogging Teacher” at NCTM. It wasn’t until I saw Dan Meyer’s impressive Twitter and blog data from TMC that I finally got motivated.
Dan presented some interesting graphs comparing # of followers to # following and # of tweets to # following where his essential wondering boiled down to: Why don’t more math teachers have an active presence on the MTBoS? For me, Dan, it’s a lack of confidence. I’m about to start my second year of teaching middle school math at a junior high in Minneapolis, MN. What could I, an inexperienced rookie, have of value to share with the greater math community? I mean I cried for the majority of terms 1 – 3 (not in class, but to my mom, my dog, under my desk, in the middle of the night…). Most of the time I felt like I was just hanging on for dear life. I had been indoctrinated throughout my teaching program at the University of Minnesota with the discovery model of mathematics pedagogy–presenting open-ended tasks, questioning students to get them to draw their own conclusions, summarizing student responses in a meaningful way. The last thing I wanted to be was the teacher who taught rules and algorithms because I wasn’t smart or creative enough to come up with a better way. More often than not, I felt like I was failing on this front. So what could I possibly have to share with this community of great thinkers and teachers like Fawn Nguyen and Dan Meyer?
I ultimately decided that I ask my students to take risks every day. I ask them to be confident when I know that they are not, speak when they are unsure, and try something, anything, even when they are clueless. I cannot expect my students to do anything I am not willing to do myself. So here I am being courageous, for them. I cannot let my students suffer at the expense of my insecurities. I have no idea what this blog will turn into, but, like my students, I have to try something.