When I began teaching basic math (whole numbers, fractions, decimals and percent) to adults twenty-five years ago, I started teaching as I had been taught, that is, the teacher did the math at the blackboard and the students watched the teacher do math, and listened to her talk about doing it. Then they worked in their own books, and took the tests at the end of the chapter and at the end of term. From the beginning, from the very first term, I knew it wouldn't work. Students were bored and frustrated by their lack of activity and their lack of understanding. I was bored and frustrated by their lack of engagement and their lack of understanding. I wanted more.
I began to change my teaching practice in a variety of ways—more emphasis on teaching concepts rather than algorithms; more group work, less lecture time; more emphasis on students discovering patterns; more emphasis on math thinking and problem solving; and more use of real life problems and a greater reliance on manipulatives and models. Indeed, some of the very things that I found in the literature when I went searching recently.
When I began to change my teaching practice, I met resistance on all fronts—my own resistance, students' resistance, and resistance from the programs I worked in over the years. Overcoming this resistance to new methods became the first hurdle to changing my practice and feeling comfortable with the changes.