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These principles guide MEC’s decision making in designing workshops and other professional development events.

  • Model fully the learning environment and assessment practices that optimize learning in mathematics classrooms; bring the Standards for Mathematical Practice to life.
  • Get the ‘grain size’ right – when planning for instruction and/or identifying student/teacher-learning outcomes, a ‘unit of study’ rather than a lesson is the appropriate grain size.
  • Surface ‘soft spots’ in learners’ understanding early and often, and push on those ‘soft spots’ throughout the unit/workshop.
  • All learners have mathematical ideas worth listening to, and it is our job as teachers and PD providers to build a classroom/workshop culture that helps students/teachers learn to express their ideas clearly.
  • Meet a range of learner needs through the use of ‘menu’ and ‘expandable tasks’ allowing access to all and yet challenging every learner.
  • Mathematical discourse and convincing mathematical arguments are essential. PD providers/teachers are not the answer book. The soundness of the mathematics should be the arbiter of whether or not an idea is reasonable.
  • Through questioning and listening carefully to what they have to say, continually seek to understand students’/teachers’ thinking.
  • Embrace mistakes as sites for new learning; they provide opportunities to look more deeply or consider ideas that might not otherwise be encountered.
  • Recognize confusion or cognitive dissonance as a necessary, and even desirable part of the process of learning; a natural step on the pathway to constructing new understanding.
  • While efficiency is a goal, recognize that whether or not any given strategy is efficient lies in the thinking and understanding of the individual learner.
  • Student/teacher sense-making always matters. Value and encourage diverse ways of solving any given problem.
  • Create a learning environment where all learners feel safe sharing their mathematical ideas.
  • Understandings develop over time through confronting ideas in multiple contexts.  The ‘big ideas’ are never fully mastered; they deepen in complexity over time.
  • A good assessment task is a good learning task.