Well, the survey does not say as much as I would like it to yet. I created a survey to get feedback from my colleagues about how to solve my wicked problem, making math more meaningful in my classroom. So far I have 17 complete answers. For context, there are 44 teachers at my school. This means less than half have answered my survey. This is not entirely unexpected, it is summer break, after all, but I still find myself a bit disappointed. I spent a considerable amount of time making the survey short and easy to answer, and yet still, I have very little data. Perhaps I will get a few more responses in the couple of days that I have left before the survey window closes.
The most disappointing part of my survey responses: only 1 of my fellow math teachers has responded. (Yeah, that little green section, that’s the one math teacher response.) I am a bit disheartened that my fellow math teachers have not offered me more advice or feedback. The response from science teachers has been good, and English and other elective teachers have been great. I’m pretty sure the 5 English teacher responses is the entire department (go English!). Still, I’ll hold out hope that I get a few more responses from my math department buddies. Maybe I’ll send them an email nudge.
The lack of responses does not mean there are no interesting results to my survey. One of the early questions that I asked was how much effort my fellow teachers put into their lesson to make real-world connections. Their responses are shown below.
All of the teachers that responded say that put in at least a “moderate amount” of effort, and more than half said they put in a lot or a great deal. This means my colleagues really consider those real-world connections to be important for learning. This supports the suspicion I had that meaning (real-world applicability) is a necessary component for learning in my classroom. This means that I am on the right track.
I also asked my fellow teachers about bringing in outside speakers to connect their content to the real-world. When I have asked other teachers how to show my students that algebra is important, they have suggested I bring in outside speakers. I have not done this myself, but I was curious what the teachers at my school thought. The results of my question about speakers is below.
First, I did not realize that so many of my colleagues would consider bringing in a speaker. This means I could potentially work with another teacher to bring in a speaker, maybe a physics teacher. I think it is easier for some subjects (social studies) to find speakers to make real-world connections, but it is possible for math. It would take a fair amount of time and effort to find someone that would fit the requirements, which is why I asked about teachers who may already have done this. This is what I found surprising. Four teachers had brought in a speaker before and would do it again. Two teachers had brought in a speaker and would not repeat the experience. This means only 66% of teachers thought bringing a speaker in was worthwhile. Fully 1/3 of the teachers with experience with speakers would not repeat the experience. This is a very telling finding, although it is coming from a pretty small sample. It tells me that while finding a speaker can be worthwhile, I should not pin my hopes on it. With this in mind, I will not be looking for speakers as step 1 to solving my wicked problem. I will consider it a piece that could be done later, once I have other factors in place.
So based on what I have seen of my survey results so far, I am going to focus on the real-world connections for making math more meaningful. This is difficult to do with Algebra, and will take some more research on my part. I will need to look at what makes for an authentic math experience, to make the real-world connections more apparent to my students. Wish me luck!