Guest Blog: Russ Webber ‘Math Geek, Part II’

Meet one of Big Ideas Learning’s Math Consultants and this month’s ‘Guest Blogger’; Russ Webber.  Without further ado, ‘Math Geek, Part II.’

Why did I ever agree to do this?  I am not a writer; much less a blogger (is that even a word?).  My wife, Barb, blogged in February and admitted to being a ‘Math Geek’, and so am I.  We met in college.  Freshman year, 7:30am Calculus.  My wife taught Middle School and I taught High School.  There were years that students had both of us for math for 5-6 years, Middle School and High School.  Our wedding and the birth of our children revolved around not disrupting the teaching year.  Our first son was named Matthew, get it.  We are ‘Math Geeks’ and proud of it.

As a consultant for Big Ideas Math I find myself reading through volumes of files and folders that I have accumulated from my colleague’s so I can be more knowledgeable and can represent Big Ideas the best as I can. Evenings in hotel rooms, on flights, at home at night, and weekends with my wife all revolve around Big Ideas Math now. 

Early in my teaching career, I tried to instill in my students that math was the most important high school subject they could learn.  Not long into my career, I revised my thinking.  Every year, at the opening of school, I emphasize that there are two critical things that students should get out of high school.  Number One is Communication skills. Students need the ability to read, write, speak, and listen, regardless of the field of study they choose.  Number Two is math skills.  Regardless of the field of study students choose to pursue, having math skills in additions to communication skills, will open doors to them that will not open to others in their field. When the CCSS came out, my message to students became validated.  The balanced approach to teaching validates the need for communication skills as well as math skills.

 I also related to my students that not every student is a mathematician, but every student can be taught math.  The Mathematical Practices also validates that for me.  The Practices guide students to how to think mathematically. To become better at any skill, it must be practiced.  We are now practicing how to think mathematically while honing conceptual understanding and procedural fluency. 

I am a Math Geek, and proud of it. I am going to strive to be the best Math Geek I can be.  I owe that to Big Ideas Math.  

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