Shangri-La

Welcome to Mount Math-More

You know what this stuff is, right?

To the uninitiated, it’s just a big old mess of math supplies.

Well, actually, you’re right. That’s what it is. But really? That’s not what it is. You see, I’m a teacher. The desire for new school supplies runs in my veins. The yearly school supply order brings squeals of joy as I rip into boxes of bulletin borders, EXPO markers and scratch-and-sniff stickers. Back-to-school sales at local stores send me into near euphoria as I contemplate crayons with perfect tips and impossibly pink erasers. And a perfectly sharpened pencil? Don’t get me started.

So the thought of new school stuff is exciting enough already. But this pile of sheer math-y goodness isn’t for me. All of these materials – the thousands of cubes, the hundreds of dice, and more – all of them are going out to other teachers in my school. That’s what makes it even more exciting.

Every teacher who gets one of these kits is going to use it to differentiate math instruction in his or her classroom. And as a person whose job it is to support teachers in differentiation, this pile represents more than you can imagine.

I’m pretty proud of this pile. It’s a physical product of my belief that every kid deserves to learn something new every day. It’s a tangible reminder that I work with incredible colleagues who are ready and open to take on professional challenges. It’s only taken a few weeks for the order to arrive, but it takes years to develop the trust for teachers to open up their classrooms and their planbooks, and invite me in. It’s one thing when teachers ask me for books, worksheets, or lesson ideas. It’s quite another when teachers want to make changes to the way they teach. I’ve always felt in my heart that I could effect change outside of the walls of my own room, and I am finally seeing it happen. It’s humbling to be part of it all, actually.

Tomorrow afternoon, some teachers and I are going to have a packing party. We’re going to bag and box everything up. Kits are going out to teachers I’ve worked and planned with, with extras ordered for anyone who wants to jump on the bandwagon.

Until then, you can find me in my classroom. I’ll be taking a private moment in the presence of new school supplies. The polyhedra dice are calling. Such a sweet, sweet song…

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