Imagine 9,000 of the top K-12 mathematics teachers in the world in one place. Chances are, you were thinking of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Conference. Recently, NCTM held their annual international conference in Washington, D.C. in the United States with thousands of teachers from over 30 countries collaborating and learning from each other. This three day event is by far the largest and most prestigious mathematics education conference in the world and the caliber and quality of presentations are unparalleled.
Representing the GCC were Dr. Cory A. Bennett, of Bennett Educational Consulting and KDSL Global, and two teachers from the American United School of Kuwait, Mrs. Minette Finney and Mr. Kenny Johnson. This team presented what they have been learning about implementing authentic problem solving using non-routine tasks to a group of over 200 teachers. The standing room only session shared some of their recommendations for structuring and implementing problem solving as well as how this work develops students’ persistence, grit, and beliefs about being successful in mathematics.
In the nearly two years leading up to this event, Dr. Bennett worked closely with the teachers and found considerable results with students. After the first rounds of problem solving students were already coming to class wanting to do more, talking in more complex and in-depth ways about mathematical relationships, and overall, behaving more like student mathematicians. “Never did I imagine that my students who struggled in class could have such complex thoughts about mathematics. They really understood what they were doing” shared Mr. Johnson who teaches sixth and seventh grade mathematics. Mrs. Finney, a fourth grade teacher, also added that her students “learned to view themselves as capable and competent mathematicians. I always work with them on this but through this problem solving they grew in ways I had not seen before.”
“Every school, and every teacher, is capable of this kind of excellence,” said Dr. Bennett afterwards. “When schools and teachers are willing to invest in this kind of on-going, collaborative, and job-embedded work, kids elevate to meet the challenge,” Dr. Bennett added. Contact KDSL Global to learn more about this work and how your teachers can access these materials.