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As we are challenged with thinking about math in a different way than many of us learned, it’s helpful to stop and think about how we are spending our time and channeling our efforts. I share with you an interaction that I had with an educator at a recent professional development event.

We just finished watching a video of the “Concept Development” and “Debrief” of a 3rd-grade lesson and were discussing the “aha’s” that we had gained from watching the video. The teacher raised her hand and shared her “aha” moment, “There was no SMART Board,” she said, “there was no SMART Board in the classroom, and the kids still learned!”

The classroom in the video was equipped with a simple whiteboard that the teacher and students were utilizing to work out example problems. The kids were actively engaged in their learning; they were discussing the math, participating in the activities, and smiling.

This was a pivotal moment for that educator. “I’ve been spending hours each night preparing lessons so that they look pretty,” she said, “imagine if I spent all of that time learning the math and preparing for the lesson instead of wasting time creating something flashy. The kids don’t need that. What they need is good math instruction.”

Let’s think about the truth in her words. The use of technology doesn’t make the lessons meaningful, the teacher does. What is really important? If we have only an hour to prepare for the next day’s lesson, how are we going to spend it?

This post is by Mary Jones, a former teacher, who is a Grade 4 writer for the Eureka Math curriculum.