Introduction: Small Teaching

I should have remembered that I have a blog when I went to Miami because I attended a Marlins game. It is almost peak professional development season (state and national conferences for two-year math teachers in Michigan happen in October and November) so I did remember about it.

I will be reading Small Teaching for a book discussion group on campus. I will probably post my notes about it chapter by chapter so I can reference them in the discussion.

Things started out poorly. The content might turn out to be great, but there is a terrible opening metaphor. James M. Lang, the author, compares making small changes in teaching to small ball in baseball. The only thing they have in common is the word small. Small ball is a strategy overhaul. Generally it reduces run scoring and thus winning. The Royals in 2014 either won in spite of small ball, or employed small ball because they did not have the personnel to hit for power. A better analogy would be a hitter changing his stance, after a prolonged decrease in average, or power. Or, hitters like J. D. Martinez changing their swings to hit more fly balls and increase OPS. These are small changes that can bring big results which is what the book promises.

In the introduction Lang promises ideas with foundations in learning sciences that have made an impact in real-world teaching. Some ideas will be brief, or one-time classroom activities. Some will be structural changes. The author sets a high standard for the book. The small changes should be viewed as a major strategy and not just an alternative in place of dramatic change. I will read with a goal of seeing if this standard is met.

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