Tuesday, 2 February 2016

How have I changed as a mathematician?

We have our Three-Way conferences next week where the child, parents and I discuss how we feel we have been progressing as a learner during the year and to set some possible goals for the remainder.

Today, we reflected on who we are as mathematicians.

We thought back to how we saw ourselves before entering Year 6 and how we perceive ourselves today.

Checking on on children's self-perceptions as mathematicians (and readers, writers, enquirers etc) is a paramount practise of an enquiry-based teacher I think. 

By finding out how each child sees themselves, that gives far more valuable data than any test, formal assessment etc can give.  

A standardised test can possibly give us a snapshot idea of where a child might be at in relation to year level standards, but meeting standards doesn't create a passion or wonderment to the world of mathematics.  That innate and ever growing amazement of how that simple idea of creating a number system based on 10 can lead to so many incredible patterns, connections and relationships with numbers and other maths concepts is what we should really be wanting to assess in a child.

That curiosity and amazement when a connection or pattern is found (by the child authentically) and wondering why that is is what our focus should be in nurturing in children as mathematicians.  If they happen to hit a year level standard along the way, that's a bonus, but it certainly should not drive maths learning. 

Passionate mathematicians working at universities; I'm sure, are not holed up in their rooms trying to meet standards.  I like to think they are creating their own hypotheses to explore and get a buzz out of connections or patterns they discover and play with.

That, together with enjoying proving and equally disproving our own theories we create in maths in class is what I am hoping to foster in each child.  I think that is a key difference to traditional maths learning and enquiry-based maths learning.  

How, though, can we assess that in a child?

Today, was a pretty good first attempt at trying to find out  abit more formally rather than from class observations.

For our reflection on how we saw and today perceive ourselves as mathematicians was pretty simple (as are the best reflections I think).

Self-Reflection on My Learning Development

Me as a mathematician
Before Year 6…….
Action I feel I should take to further strengthen my skills or understandings

We have already done two check-ins throughout the year about how they see themselves as mathematicians, but this one had a different spin: how have we changed.

If you are reading this and you currently use the Everyday Math textbook or use an overload of those 'valuable' worksheets, you might find this of particular interest as these kids grew up with it before entering Year 6.  

The intention of including some of my students' reflections is not to brag. 


I'm Australian so it's not in my culture to be like that - we grow up quickly understanding the tall poppy.....

The intent is to highlight how quickly we can change a child's mindset to come to appreciate mathematical thinking once we start using student-voice and curiosities to drive maths learning in an enquiry-based way.

From textbooks and worksheets, here are how my kids have changed- most a lot and some a bit.

Oh! And to bring some creative thought into the reflecting, they chose images to represent how they perceive themselves as mathematicians. 

Link to reflections:

Some of the interesting images they chose to represent how they perceived themselves before as mathematicians and today:

Before Year 6, as a mathematician I saw myself as....

I felt like I was a box without any real knowledge. I knew how to do things in maths, but didn't understand the whys.

I thought maths was overrated and boring!!!

I felt a bit like a Hippo dragging through the mud and trying to pull my body through it all.

Now, as a mathematician, I see myself as......

I feel like maths is magical and that if I dig deep in it, I come out with a lot of amazing understandings!

Now I feel literally on top of the world!!


  1. Lovely reflections! Love the idea of an image!

  2. Thanks so much for your feedback Lindy! The kids really love selecting images and they often tell a lot. :)


What do you think? ...........