The community of math teachers that read and write blogs is an amazing resource. We share lesson plans, techniques, philosophies, exams, and project ideas. I’ve organized a “conference” to focus more specifically on the soft skills we need to be effective teachers. Not the killer worksheets, or the progressive grading systems, but on the skills of raising children. This conference is a great opportunity for us to share the way we bring out the shy kids in our classes, handle teasing, build confidence, create opportunities for leadership, and acknowledge the beauty and significance of the blossoming lives for which we are responsible. I hope you’ll join us by making your own presentation and placing yourself in the schedule below.
The conference has five scheduled “speakers,” who will each be presenting on a Saturday in July. Here’s the lineup:
July 3: Dan Meyer
July 10: Kate Nowak
July 17: Riley Lark
July 24: Sam Shah
July 31: Shawn Cornally
[Update 6/12 1:00 PM - for clarity: the "speakers" will not be speaking, but writing posts on their blogs under the title "Virtual Conference on Soft Skills."]
These speakers are enthusiastic bloggers with five pretty distinct styles and focuses. We’ll have different takes on what it means to have and use soft skills in our classrooms, we’ll share different specific techniques (successful or not) you can use, and I hope you’ll find them useful. Pre-register now for zero dollars!
But the real opportunity here is for you to add your own presentation to this lineup. Write your own article under the title “Virtual Conference on Soft Skills,” and I will link to it from the convention center between the links for the scheduled presenters above. If you already have a blog and haven’t taken the time to share things like this, this is your chance to get started. If you do not already have a blog and are interested in starting one, go ahead and start it! If you don’t want to start a blog, but do have something interesting to share in the conference, write me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll post your article on this blog under your name. Especially for new bloggers, this conference will be an excellent way to get attention for your writing so you can start getting feedback on your ideas.
Interested, but can’t think of what you might write about? Here are some ideas.
- A presenter could write about specific strategies for:
- Engaging the small group of kids who didn’t buy your first shot at the lesson even though the rest of the class is atwitter
- Encouraging questioning in class
- Helping kids with dyslexia, dyscalculia
- Addressing disrespect when you see it in your classroom
- Promoting a supportive community in your classroom
- Making it easier for students to speak up with answers and information
- Helping kids feel like they “like math” or “are good at math”
- Helping students manage big assignments or prepare for big tests
- Giving students a sense of pride in their mathematical accomplishments
- Acknowledging student contributions without sounding trite
- Giving students feedback about their social contributions to a class
- Dealing with a lesson when 29 students get it and are ready to move on but 1 is totally lost
- Helping students feel ownership of the curriculum, assessment, or some other aspect of the class
- Handling cheating or plagiarism or other lying
- Ending teasing and hurtful sarcasm in your classroom
- Helping kids having a bad day
- Helping students who are currently failing your class and have given up
- Managing senioritis
- Demanding high standards of students without making them feel consistently substandard
- Figuring out what’s going on with a student who’s always depressed, always tired, always nervous, etc
- Getting some fun into your classroom
- Helping your students bond as a group
- Getting some exercise into your classroom
- Teaching students how to help others constructively
- Helping the student who is in Algebra 2 instead of prealgebra, which would be more appropriate
- Showing kids that you care about them as individuals
- Recovering from conflicts with students or between students
- …and so many more skills we need to raise children.
If you have a favorite technique, a favorite lesson, a favorite class norm, a favorite mediation strategy that focuses on something that would fit into the list above, please share it in this conference! If you would share experiences that didn’t go well, that would be helpful too.
We don’t have a lot of time to develop ourselves as teachers. Articles with specific suggestions that are easy to deploy will be the most helpful immediately, while articles with general philosophies will be harder to incorporate in our classrooms but can help change the way we look at our roles.
I hope you’ll contribute and follow along as the conference progresses. Please email me if you’re thinking about presenting but aren’t sure whether you’re qualified or have anything interesting to say (a common doubt), and I can help you figure it out!