The work I have done through my ImagineIT project has significantly transformed my teaching to better match what I have hoped it would be for years. Students now have autonomy over much of their learning. I design a path to meet objectives required for standardized tests and students walk down that path at a pace that is appropriate for them. I use a flipped mastery model of teaching most subjects now. This has allowed me the opportunity to incorporate real-world examples of the material students will cover. This has also allowed me to design some of the best lessons I have taught in my career by allowing me flexibility in teaching material in interdisciplinary units. Through this project I came to two major realizations about mathematics curriculum: 1. To completely ignore content covered on standardized tests is to do students a disservice in regards to their ACT, SAT, and college entrance exam preparation. 2. To completely ignore the beauty and elegance of mathematics (including some content not covered on standardized exams) is to lose the essence of the subject and is also a significant disservice for students. A healthy balance of these things is required, with a focus on the second one being most important to overcome mathematics anxiety and distaste (sadly, common issues in our society).
I gained some other significant insights during my ImagineIT project, in this case relating to effective project implementation. Every project begins with an idea. From that idea, research begins to understand the concept better. Goals are formed and strategies are selected to attain those goals. It is best to share this laid out plan with a select group of colleagues (and possibly students and parents) to gauge their opinions and determine if any changes need to be made in the plan before implementation. Once a plan is rolled out, data needs to be collect and analyzed so that the effectiveness of the project can be determined. Adjustments can be made based on the data to help achieve those goals.
My final conclusion from my ImagineIT project is that possibilities are endless when using the strategy outlined above. I selected a goal that I did not fully understand at the time. As the project continued I became a captain of escalation. I kept my major goal in mind and began setting additional goals, which were significantly beyond what I thought was possible at the beginning of the project. It seems to me that no project ever ends. They become part of what we do, engrained in our nature. They also begin to be incorporated into the next project. We cannot settle, even when something is effective. We constantly need to adapt, challenge our students, and challenge ourselves.