Welcome to Communicating Mathematically

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 8.41.55 PM                                    My Introduction

Welcome and thank you for checking out my blog!

I’m the type of person who gets an idea and rolls with it. I feel that if I research too much, then the moment is lost. I recently decided to start a  blog.   So immediately, I began to put thoughts on paper.  Then stopped, because it dawned on me that readers would want to know some  background information. Who is this person and why should I read her  blog? I think in lists. So here goes …

The List:

  1. Jenn Vadnais. Taught math for 22 years. Currently an Instructional Coach
  2. Math education is my passion.
  3. I’m goal oriented.
  4. One goal (of many): Help students build mathematical confidence
  5. I believe in The Growth Mindset (Carol Dweck)
  6. I have a Master’s in Educational Leadership w/ a Concentration in Middle Level Curriculum.
  7. In order to ask my children and students to step out of their comfort zone, I must do the same.
  8. An advocate for students and teachers.
  9. I grew up in a suburb of Boston. (Go Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins and Boston College)
  10. Moved to Southern California 5 years ago. The most unnerving and rewarding experience all rolled into one.

The Narrative:

In my 22 years as an educator, 21 have been spent teaching math at the middle level. I love the age group and the content. I’ve taught in geographically opposite regions – Maine and Southern California. Originally from the East coast, I’m a New Englander at heart but the warm California winters are slowly winning me over.

Being goal oriented, I constantly challenge myself to improve my skills by testing out new strategies. This process breathes life into the classroom, and even if the lesson didn’t progress perfectly (which it seldom does), something positive always results, giving me a building block for the next experiment.

We all know that if students view you as a genuine person, then they’ll work for you – especially at the middle level.  So connecting with students has always been an important part of my job. I have two wonderful children of my own, Jack and Riley. Parenthood has influenced how I interact with my students.  I began incorporating Carol Dweck’s concept of Growth Mindset, first at home and then in my classroom.  Over the past few years, it became equally important to teach students to persevere and take ownership of their education, as it was to teach the math concepts.

Teaching students to believe in themselves and to take risks in their learning is a huge part of my teaching philosophy. Couple that with a love of mathematics, and you get a sense of my passion – creating math classes that help students find enjoyment in math and empower them to feel confident in their math ability. Finding positive ways to encourage them, so they return the next day interested in learning and accomplishing more.

How The Blog Came To Be:

This past October when I turned 45, I became very aware of my mortality and this awareness has driven me to take on challenges that I used to resist.  I’ve started running long distances, writing, and even adopted a dog (something I told my kids we’d never do). I don’t find running overly enjoyable.  Writing has been a life long struggle and a dog, well, I finally stopped worrying about the added responsibility and simply accepted the joy and companionship my Chihuahua, Paco, has brought to our home.

I’ve joined up with a Sunday morning running group, which has since inspired me to run a half marathon. I’ve completed many 5k’s over the years, but never wanted to run either a half or full marathon – mostly out of fear. I had no desire to put my body through that, and didn’t know if mentally, I could handle it. But I’ve been involved in athletics my entire life, so it was time to face this fear.

Let’s be honest, running long distances is boring. Besides stopping – What does one think about when running for miles? Training gave me the opportunity to answer this question.  What did I think about?  A lot of things really, but mostly I thought about my job.

Sunday mornings are reserved for the long runs.  During these runs, I tried wrapping my head around how to proceed in my new role as an Instructional Math Coach.  I reviewed conversations I had with teachers, students and fellow coaches.  I pushed my own thinking regarding math lessons, refining my views on pedagogy and incorporating new ways to incorporate technology into classrooms.  Running allowed me the time and space to examine my beliefs on topics close to my heart – Teaching, learning and coaching.

The half marathon is 2 weeks away; two weeks until this physical challenge concludes. Two weeks to complete this challenge before moving onto the next. The training process for this physical test coincides with my new position and prompted an academic challenge. I feel compelled to confront another area that I’ve always resisted – the communication puzzle called writing.

To be an effective writer, one must have a clear voice. I struggled with writing in my youth, because I didn’t have a clear voice. Teaching changed that. Over the course of my career, my voice has increasingly focused on advocating for teachers and students within the context of math education. In this area, I feel confident, whereas in writing I don’t.

This blog is my attempt to convey thoughts, experiences, activities and ideas on math education from various perspectives including teachers, students and coaches.

I am always challenging and pushing my students in order to get the best out of them, and for them to believe in themselves.  As an educator, I believe it’s my duty and obligation to find ways to challenge myself and this blog is one example.  Just like taking risks in the classroom, I know that it may not progress perfectly, but I also know something positive will stem from it.  That’s because when we dare to step out of our comfort zone, and push ourselves beyond our perceived limitations, we re-discover the essence of who we truly are.

Please join me on this journey to discover how other teachers,

students and coaches communicate mathematically!!!

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About jgvadnais

Math Coach. Desmos Fellow. Google Level 1 Certified. SoCal transplant. New Englander at heart. Lover of yoga, dogs, green smoothies and coffee.
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One Response to Welcome to Communicating Mathematically

  1. Pingback: Yule Blog Challenge – Day 10 | Communicating Mathematically

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