As I move into my fourth year out of the classroom in a system role, I have continued to become ever-growingly reflective on the experiences and opportunities I have been able to take part in and learn from. One area that is very to easy to take for granted is the plethora of professional reading opportunities that I have been able to access as part of our system team.
As educational leaders publish new works, you can often find a growing pile of books and resources on my desk. While I try my best to stay on top of these new ideas, ensuring I can – at the very least – take away sections and integrate parts from each resource in my work, it can be difficult to dive in to a resource from cover to cover. The summer has allowed me to revisit a few of these resources and the top of my list was The Classroom Chef by #MTBoS-ers John Stevens and Matt Vaudrey.
After the first few sections of The Classroom Chef, it was clear why this book has become the talk of the online Math Education community. Using the analogy of a teacher as a classroom chef, skillfully bringing together Appetizers (Minds On), Entrees (Action), Desserts (Consolidation), and Side Dishes (thinking prompts and clasroom hooks) to create the perfect meal in the classroom, this resource would connect with any new or experienced math teacher wanting to try a new idea, or having had the feeling at the end of a lesson that “Wow… that didn’t work…”.
However, The Classroom Chef is so much more than a collation of John and Matt’s honest stories, lesson ideas, and go-to resources… it is instead a reflection of the paradigm shift taking place in the education field – both in mathematics and abroad. Below you will find my Top 10 takeaways and reflections that really spoke to me and my beliefs about education.
1. The difference between preparing a lesson and lesson planning
2. The power that we have as teachers to engage students to want to know more.
3. While I have read about equity and inclusion in the classroom in many resources, as well as spoken to it in my own sessions, the simplicity that “every student has equal access to argue something none of them know about” rung so true with me.
4. The Five Practices in Action. Whether intentional or not, this classroom story demonstrated the importance of Anticipating, Monitoring, Selecting, Sequencing, and Connecting, while showing how it can become part of any teacher’s everyday practice.
5. We are more than just our lessons.
6. I used to count myself lucky that when I was in a coaching role I was able to support teachers in my speciality area. However, this short quote turned that thinking upside down.
7. Without even using the words Formative Assessment this analogy defines the importance of regular and ongoing feedback in the classroom.
8. Going along with the importance of formative assessment above, I found this idea a simple yet powerful way for me as a professional learning facilitator to integrate formative assessment in my own sessions. Did the ideas we explored connect with the teachers taking part?
9. Permission. It is ok if we are not ‘on our A+ game’ every minute of everyday. However, we know our students best and know when they truly need that extra A++ recipe.
10. And finally… it all comes down to risk. We cannot expect our students to take risks if we do not take them ourselves.
These ideas are only a small taste of the numerous analogies and reflections present throughout The Classroom Chef. And to be honest… you can’t beat the footnotes throughout the book! I heartily recommend this easy – yet powerful – read for any math educator.
Until next time…