When you hear “kindergarten”, some of my math peeps will shudder and shake. The idea of teaching “the little people” is an exhausting task. However, this has been part of my universe for a few years now in thanks to my math partner, Stacy.
We have been exploring different conferences with enthusiasm. We have brought our math story to primary teachers in Northern and Southern California. At these conferences, I looked forward to meeting different math educators that I kept up with through MTBoS (Math Twitter Blog-O-Sphere). I would eagerly introduce them to Stacy and tell our story. They welcomed us with open arms and were intrigued by our partnership.
This weekend was different. Instead of Stacy entering my world of math folks, I entered hers of the kindergarten clan. Rather than be one of thousands of math educators, we were one of three sessions featuring math. It was a world of songs, bright colors, and construction paper. Stacy spent the time pointing out different people to me while I tried to “blend” in. When introducing myself as a 6th grade teacher/math coach, I was repeatedly asked “What are you doing here?” But then I told our story and why I attend, and they were interested in what we had to say.
We were scheduled during the toughest time slot–Friday at 5:45. These primary teachers had been sitting in sessions all day long. But we persisted. We showed them “Which One Doesn’t Belong”, clothesline math, and the flipped hundreds chart. Luckily for us, our participants were enthusiastic. We challenged their thinking. And in turn—they challenged us. One asked, “why are you here for kindergarten?” I answered her “it was because the little ones are outstanding mathematicians.” I stand by that.
We were different from the other sessions in that we didn’t sell our stuff on Teacher Pay Teacher. We weren’t at the conference with any company selling their goods. We were there to spread the word of math. “Math can be fun and interactive,” we told them. While presenting, we kept telling them we have them covered. We gave them thumb drives will all kinds of files on it (including all the clothesline cards). “That deserves a round of applause,” claimed one of our participants. When I heard that, I remember looking at Stacy who was beaming with her brightest smile. We did it.
In a previous post, I had explained how we keep trying to improve our presentation skills. With this one in the books, we have hit our stride. We have accomplished what we have set out to do—empower more teachers and reach more children with our love of math. As I keep exploring other conferences and venues for our work, there’s more that can be done in helping the primary teachers.
Until next time,
Kristen (& Stacy)