Minds on Mathematics - Ch4, Community {Book Study}

Okay, I know I am so behind. There's a good excuse. I was in San Antonio for a week for CAMT (posts to come). Then, I spent the entire week in my classroom. See...valid excuses, right?! I have so much catching up to do. I attended some great sessions at CAMT and have so much information to process. I hope to share notes from some of the better sessions soon on the blog.

So, I just read chapters four and five. Hopefully, I can get six and seven done before the end of the week. Chapter four poses the following question:
While I know the classroom arrangement is not the answer to encouraging community, but I do think it can encourage collaboration. I think classrooms can be set up to accomodate individual, group, and whole class instruction. Here's a sneak peak into what I have planned for my classroom thus far. I got rid of the individual student desks and traded them in for tables in hopes that I would think more about collaboration in the classroom.
In addition to classroom setup, there are some other things I've thought about to encourage community in the classroom. I think this past year is the first time I've valued community in the classroom. I've seen pacing guides that encourage team building and "get to know you" activities for the first week...and I just breezed over that and got straight to the math. I chose a different route this past year and definitely saw the benefit, so I looked forward to reading this chapter.

Hoffer highlights three key components of creating community:
  • Intention - develop a vision and working purposely toward that
  • Interdependence - emphasize opportunities for learners to co-create
  • Homeostasis - balance all socioemotional forces as they shift and change.
In order to be intentional, we should establish a vision, align expectations, convey confidence, build individual relationships, control our thoughts. The one that stood out to me of these is to align expectations with our vision. It mad me think what is the vision for my classroom and how do I set classroom norms that align with that vision? Should I let students take part in establishing that vision and classroom norms or should I just set them. I think this stood out for me, because I have been pondering using classroom norms rather than rules. The two that keep coming to mind for me are respect and effort. Can I refer all wanted and unwanted behaviors in my classroom back to these two norms? If so, is there a need for others or rules?

I love how Hoffer related interdependence to soldiers in bootcamp...probably because I was in the Army. Don't believe me? Here's a couple of pictures!

Anyway, I remember the intensity, challenge, urgency, and shared purpose of the tasks of boot camp. I have to agree that the difficult work did build community. Hoffer suggests that we can enhances typical tasks to promote collaboration, promote discoures, and scaffold successful collaborative learning to encourage interdependence.

And in order to achieve homeostasis, we must hold everyone accountable, give immediate feedback, and facilitate self-monitoring. I really liked the "notice/wonder" format for feedback and the graphic organizer for self-monitoring. Often, we want kids to monitor their learning. I like how Hoffer has students monitor their progress with the classroom norms.

I could easily be the person who say I have too much to cover and no time to build community, but I disagree. I know the value of students learning in an environment where they feel safe and valued. I hope to foster a learning community that will also increase student achievement.

Want to read what other teachers think about this book?
 Check out the book study link-up hosted by Sherrie @ Middle School Math Rocks!
Minds on Mathematics Book Study

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