Written by Luke Wilcox published 6 months ago
Most teachers find their way to Math Medic lessons through a Google search, a social media post, or a suggestion from another teacher. It is rarely the case that a district-level curriculum person finds our stuff and then demands that the math department adopt our EFFL teaching philosophy. And we want to keep it that way. We have been in education long enough to know that the best initiatives that actually lead to long-term change are started by teachers and not administrators.
This is exactly why you are our greatest asset in starting the Math Medic EFFL revolution.
Maybe you have only dabbled with Math Medic lessons. Maybe you are ALL IN for one of your classes. Maybe you are truly ALL IN, teaching EFFL lessons in every class period. No matter the case, you likely realize the incredible potential of what students can learn if we make some small changes to how they learn math. And if it is working in your classroom, there is no reason it can’t start working for your colleagues.
So what are the best ways to grow EFFL in your department? Based on our own experiences at East Kentwood High School, here are some suggestions that we have found to be most effective:
Invite Teachers to Visit Your Classroom
For most teachers, they need to believe that making a change to the way they do things will be worth the effort, and one of the best ways for them to get there is to see to believe. This can be initiated with an informal invitation (stop by my classroom during 4th hour today if you can) or done through more formal observation protocols (at our school we have used Pineapple Charts and Classroom Learning Labs). Once teachers see the Math Medic lessons in action, they can be inspired to try them out in their own classroom.
Model a Lesson for Your Colleagues
This works best if it is done in a timeframe that was already allocated for teacher learning (math department meeting or a PD day) rather than something extra teachers are asked to do. When modeling, allow teachers to become the students that engage in the EFFL lesson of your choosing. Experiencing the lesson from the perspective of the student often helps teachers feel the value of students collaborating to arrive at deeper conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts. We suggest picking a lesson that will produce an aha moment even for teachers.
- Gas Station Snacks – developing intuition for the strategy of elimination.
- How Much Does My Pizza Cost? – understanding point-slope form as a concept rather than a memorized formula.
- What's Your Angle? – connecting ideas about similar triangles with the angles of a right triangle.
Make Teachers Aware of all the Math Medic Resources
Changing your curriculum and changing your approach to teaching is a huge task! Teachers know that this will require lots of their time and energy to make a change like this. Assure them that there are resources that will make this transition much easier than the last time they got new textbooks. Remember that traditional textbooks don’t have lessons teachers can use in their classrooms, only a list of the content they need to teach. Math Medic has much more.
1. All the lessons are already created. And they are really, really good. Teachers don’t have to spend hours searching Google to find the perfect activity or task for every lesson.
2. These lessons have been tried and tested. While some curricula you'll find are written by people who have never been in classrooms, these lessons were developed by actual teachers at East Kentwood High School – the #1 most diverse public high school in Michigan. 3. Every lesson has teaching tips. Based on our own experiences teaching these lessons, we provide tips for teachers to use to get the best learning outcomes for each lesson. 4. The Math Medic Assessment Platform has pre-made homework, quizzes, and tests. Teachers don’t have to create or find their own questions. We have done this work and they are all perfectly aligned to the lessons. 5. Multiple versions of quizzes and tests can be created in one click. In the Math Medic Assessment Platform, one click of the Swap All feature gives you a new version that you can feel confident assesses the same learning targets at the same difficulty level.
Acknowledge that Shifting Teaching Takes Time
The EFFL teaching model can definitely make some teachers uncomfortable. Specifically, here are the two big shifts that can be intimidating:
- Moving away from memorized algorithms and procedures towards deeper conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts.
- Shifting from a lecture-based teaching model where the teacher is doing most of the communicating to a student-focused learning model where students collaborate in small groups.
It helps to acknowledge that every teacher is in a different position on both of these continuums. And we can’t expect everyone to jump immediately to the right side of each axis. Our goal should always be to slowly and incrementally move teaching towards conceptual understanding using a student-centered approach.
Invite Us to Come Work With Your Department!
Once you start to get some momentum in your department, it might be helpful for them to know more about the intentional design of the lessons and some best practices for implementing EFFL. We would love to share what we have learned over the years! We have worked with dozens of school districts all over the country. Reach out to us to check for availability.
Going ALL IN on EFFL!
All of this work won’t be easy. But it is definitely worth it for all our students. Thank you for being a part of the community that has helped grow these ideas from a few classrooms in Kentwood, Michigan to a national movement.