Inside the Classroom: Middle School Math at GPS

Courtney Alexander Meissner ’08, Math Teacher and Instructional Coach
Lots of learning occurs in our Middle School math classrooms; girls learn to multiply fractions, solve multi-step equations, and use the quadratic formula. They also learn how to face challenges, collaborate with their classmates, advocate for themselves, and adopt a growth mindset. When students have a growth mindset, they believe they can learn anything and, in turn, are persistent and willing to keep going when tasks become challenging.

According to Jo Boaler, “We need to replace the idea that learning ability is fixed with the recognition that we are all on a growth journey.” When you walk into our middle school math classrooms, you are likely to see glimpses of this growth mindset at work. You may see a student willing to take a risk, unsure if her thinking is correct but willing to share her thoughts. You may see a student sitting with her teacher, talking through her missteps and making a plan for revisiting the material. You may see a student sifting through feedback from an assessment, recognizing patterns in her current work, and preparing for an opportunity to redemonstrate mastery. 

Our classrooms are certainly places where students learn mathematical skills, but they are also places where students transition from seeing themselves as people who can either do math or not to those who are capable of learning anything.