Our mission of Learning Forward Kansas (LFKS) is to build the capacity of educators to establish and sustain highly effective professional learning. As a principal, providing effective professional learning for my staff is important. But, how many of us have thought about professional learning for the parents of our students? Since schools have moved to remote or hybrid learning models, we are putting parents, guardians and caretakers in the role of the teacher. I think it is time we think about what professional learning could look like for the parents of our students.
So what do I mean by this? This morning my husband showed me a Facebook post by a dad with children at home doing remote learning. They were doing three-digit multiplication together. The problem was 312 x 23 = X. The picture showed the student’s way of solving the problem with a place value chart vs the parent using the typical algorithm. The dad’s post says he doesn’t have time to learn how to do this new math. My husband asked me if this is how we are teaching math now? I explained to my husband that Math is the same as it was 30 years ago, the difference is we are now teaching Math for understanding and making connections between concepts. Clearly, the dad in the post wasn’t going to take the time to understand the place value chart model.
Is Math a four-letter word in your house? It seems that Math is always a topic that when brought up you hear things such as, “I hate Math!” and “I am not good at Math!” This makes me cringe when parents and other adults are using Math as a four-letter word. Have you ever asked someone why they don’t like Math? Typically, people don’t like Math because it was hard for them and they didn’t understand it. This can lead to Math anxiety or having a Math phobia. If I would have started this article talking about Math, many would not have kept reading.
We, Inman Elementary, are in our second year after the adoption of a new Math curriculum that teaches math conceptually. Knowing that Math was going to look different to our parents, I began recording videos sharing the different Math strategies with parents. In addition, we have had Math family nights in which each classroom highlights a specific Math model or concept and how it is being taught for understanding. Here is a link to a couple of my episodes of, “From the Principal’s Desk,” that provides some professional learning for our parents.
With this said, how might we consider providing professional learning for the parents of our students? Our students will benefit from having Math supportive parents at home. We can create supportive Math parents by providing them professional learning about the importance of teaching math for understanding, as well as, teaching them the same math strategies our students are learning. In this article, I have shared Math professional learning for the parents of our students using a video clip. What are the needs of your parents and how will you provide them with “just-in-time” professional learning?
Jo McFadden, President
Learning Forward Kansas