Organization

So I’ve been wanting a blank calendar that I could use for general school planning. I couldn’t find anything that I liked so I just made one instead. I hope that some of you can use it or pass it along! Enjoy! 

The links to print the Calendar are under the Resources tab.

Advertisements

Everybody Makes Mistakes (Thanks Miley Cyrus)

When I was thinking of titling this post sadly that lyric popped into my mind. After I had a good laugh about it I couldn’t not use is as the title.

It’s fun to look back on my first year of teaching because I learned so much. I knew it would be hard, but I really had no idea how much I would learn and grow. Not only did I grow as a teacher but I grew as an adult as well. Here are a few of the major lessons/things I learned.

1.  Mistakes: Everyone out there knows that being a teacher means you don’t make mistakes, right? HA. Not only is that not true, I don’t want it to be true. If I can model to my student’s what it’s like to make mistakes and learn from them it’s far more impacting than pretending like I know everything. I want my student’s to know that making mistakes is how you learn, you need it. It’s not a bad thing or something to be embarrassed about.

2. Student Work: Going into my first year this was my attitude, “I’m only going to give grades based on student’s math knowledge. I’m not going to be one of those teachers who marks off for neatness, messy papers, etc.” As much as I wanted to pretend like organization/neatness/showing you care even a little about the work you’re turning in/making your work look like an actual human wrote it, didn’t matter, it does. I hope I didn’t take that one too far. Teaching student’s to value their work IS an important lesson I want them to learn. School isn’t just about math (yes I did say that), it’s also about teaching student’s how to be a successful learner. Student’s, especially 9th graders, need help with organization and note taking skills. I’m doing them more of a disservice by accepting messy work.

3. Communication: I learned so many lessons about communication. Things to remember for next year:

a. Don’t talk with a parent about something I haven’t yet talked with a student about.

b. If an e-mail makes you upset do not respond right away.

c. If an e-mail is getting to long, and things might get misunderstood use a telephone or an in person meeting.

d. Communicate important rules often. Just because I know the rule doesn’t mean my students remember it.

e. Communicate assignments in multiple ways whenever possible.

f. Communicate with student’s better about their behavior. (How to do this daily I still don’t have nailed down.)

4. Complaining: Complaining is part of a high schooler’s life. Most of the time they don’t even know they’re complaining. Sometimes, I feel like they only know how to communicate by complaining. I can’t take it personally, it’s part of their mojo to complain. 

5. Teenager Brain: I really forgot what it was like to be a teenager. Part of High School for some student’s is learning that what they do affects the people around them. I forget that they’re still learning this lesson. When I think back to me in High School (and let’s be real, even now) I definitely wasn’t thinking about what was best for everyone and not just myself. 

I feel like there are so many things I want to remember to do better the second time around. I know I won’t do everything better, but that’s why there’s a third, fourth, fifth, sixth, n+1, (where n<65) year.

Math Talk

Talking about teaching never gets old. I mean, who wouldn’t want to talk about teaching techniques, crazy students, all the mistakes you made as a first year teacher, and everything you can’t wait to change for the next year? That’s how I feel everyday, I love to talk about my job because I love my job. Even on the hardest day, when I’m really glad I didn’t break a student’s protractor just to laugh at them, and lets be real some days that seems like a good idea, I enjoy thinking about teaching.

One of my great friends from College and fellow math teacher Dan Schneider got the chance to come up to Seattle. It was awesome to talk about our experiences as first year teachers, and even laugh about all the crazy things we did this year.

I love when my students critique the math problems on tests, exams, quizzes, etc. It really forces me to think about what I’m communicating to my students. It also means my students are actually thinking about the problems, not just straight memorizing and repeating what they hear.

Here is the problem I asked my students:

“Aqua Man swam across the lake shown below.  In order to figure out how far he swam, he made and recorded the measurements shown on the diagram.  Determine the distance across the lake.”

I talked with the student later and he thought it was unreasonable that he (aqua man) could measure the two of the sides of the triangle but not the third.

I love it!

A Proud Moment

As I was grading a test on quadratics, I had one of my favorite moments of the entire year. One of my students who has struggled this year got an A on the test. Honestly, I don’t think it had much to do with me, which doesn’t bother me.

Side note: All the names are made up.

Here is the story….

Her seat gets changed. Disclosure: I had a student create my most recent seating chart. I realized I had too many biases about my students, and it was getting difficult to create a seating chart that I thought would work. Then one of the brilliant teachers I work with gave me the idea to have a student make the chart. So I did. It was great. The seating chart did wonders! My students sit in tables of 4 and there was a guy and girl whom I’ve never sat next to one another. He became like a mini teacher to her, and she encouraged him. It was a great pairing. I even had a conversation with the guy about the role that he took over in his new group. This is the conversation we had.

Jesse: “Mrs. Cole, I’m almost like a teacher to the kids in my group. They always ask me to explain things after I understand                                               them.”

Me: “Is that a problem?”

Jesse:  “Well not really I guess, because it helps me learn when I show others.”

Me: ” Cool, you might not even need me soon.”

I enjoyed that conversation.

Extra practice. Easily available extra practice. I found & created two worksheets of extra practice on a topic students were really struggling with. I thought kids would kinda laugh in my face and say

“Mrs. Cole you’re so funny thinking we’ll do extra practice, that’s cute of you.”

However, a lot of kids took advantage of this. Including the girl who rocked those problems on her test. I didn’t even count it for credit . I did post the work and answers to every problem online so they could look at it if they needed help or got stuck.

This was a victory.

Reflections…

My first year as a teacher is quickly coming to a close and I can’t believe how fast it went. Sometimes it seems as though everything I learned in college comes into my brain and leaves just as fast. Creating a classroom environment that is ideal for learning is a harder task than it seems (not that it seems that easy). As I finish my first year as a teacher I hope to reflect on a few important questions.

1. What was it like to be a student in my classes?

2. Are my classes structured so all students felt comfortable talking and asking questions?

3. What are the most important aspects of my classroom that I need to change for next year?

I can already tell that this summer will be filled with planning for next year. There are many things I’d like to improve on. If I expect my students to adapt and solve problems I better be doing the same thing!

I’ll be answering these questions soon. Once I reflect on them more myself. (Maybe even give my students a survey).

What would be your response to those questions?