As I’ve shared many times before, I’ve been focusing a lot on my math instruction this year as part of my Annual Learning Plan. Today, I was part of a discussion that bothered me. We’re continuing to get closer to the end of the school year, and as always, there’s still lots of math left to teach. Particularly in Grades 2 and above, the math units become more extensive, and certain units take longer to teach than others. In Grade 2, teaching the students how to add and subtract with and without regrouping is a very difficult unit. I consider this one of the key math units that I teach though, as students understanding these concepts directly impact on so much more of their math learning. So yes, it takes a while to teach this unit to ensure that all students understand it, but I think that it’s worth the time invested.
In the staffroom today, I was talking to some teachers in different grades about math, and one teacher mentioned that she’s finishing one of these “key units.” She said that the students have a test today. They’ve been told to study all week, and she’s been reviewing the material in class all week. This teacher commented that as of today, this unit is over, as the test will be done. This bothered me!
I explained to this teacher that I’m also nearing the end of one of my key math units, but that while I’ll move onto other things, I’ll continue to review addition and subtraction with and without regrouping for the rest of the year. As I said to her, I need all students to understand this. This teacher did say that there will be some review of her math unit as well, but no more “teaching” of it.
This is a colleague that I highly respect, and one that I dialogue with frequently. We have a difference of opinion here, and I understand why, but I can’t move past the idea that we can stop teaching a concept that not all students have mastered. After some time thinking about this, yes, I think that full class lessons need to stop now, but maybe this could be a small group focus. Possibly we can look at other ways to have parents support this learning at home for struggling students. What do you think?
I know that as teachers, often tight time lines dictate the schedule, but in this case, I think that the learning needs to dictate the schedule. How do you go about balancing the long list of expectations with student achievement? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!