Carl's Teaching Blog

A place to talk about teaching and learning

Ten Good Things about my year so far.

The entirety of my 2014-2015 school year has felt like this treadmill of listing things that I should construct a post about, not posting it, and then scrapping it for because I don’t have time, I can’t figure out the best way to put it together, or the timelines of the content fades away. This is partly because the expansion of my role as “spreadsheet whisperer” has given math teaching, my actual job, serious competition for my mental bandwidth. I know this isn’t really an excuse, however, I am slacking in a huge way on my blog. Much of this feeling was echoed by my buddy Nate, I feel like I have left blogging, even thought I didn’t really know why I’d gone. One reason may be the lingering need to make a “home run” post, to really connect on one of those ideas that have been bouncing around on the idea treadmill, as opposed to just knocking a simple post about what I’m doing in my classroom into the outfield.

So just as I was thinking about all this I saw the following show up on my twitter:

It looked like a pretty cool format so I figured I wouldn’t over think it and put a post up. Here it goes.

10 good things about my teaching in 2014-2015

1. The first thing in my mind is that I won over a kid today. There was a girl who was difficult for other teachers, and who was not excited to have me as a sub. She got into my Road Trip project however, and by the end of class she said that she was going to sign up for my class next cycle…nd she doesn’t even need math credits!

2. My goal of incorporating new teaching materials has gone pretty well so far. Things that I have incorporated so far include: Visual Patterns, the Meatballs task on 101 Questions, a good 2 weeks of estimation 180, some diagnostics from the people at MARS, the Penny Circle on Desmos, and an assessment tasks from the A2I Algebra unit. …I guess that’s a lot when you type it all out.

3. I had the largest turnout to my advisory ever. I might have the largest advisory turnout of anyone in the school (which is completely a guess, but I’m going to go with it)!

4. The spreadsheet wrangling has been more or less successful. Despite a couple months of dark despair in front of a computer, I am now able to keep my little corner of the school’s data system running smoothly, with only 15-20 minutes per day of effort. I’m also gaining facility with Microsoft Access, which my brother swears will allow me to hand more responsibility to other people.

5. The math team has had some pretty impressive meetings and we have had some good conversations/clashes with older teachers. After one meeting a teacher who previously championed his workbook of test problem from the 80’s as “the real math” came away from one meeting saying that he had to question “everything he knew” about teaching math.

6. My student who had fallen off every cycle for 3 cycles straight is finally going to come through this cycle. Since the birth of his son he has been greeting me every day with a hand shake, any pertinent information about his home life that might influence his studies, and a pledge to get to work. It’s the classic case of the kid who figured ‘it’ out.

7. I started taking pictures of my board to see how it would look for students who tried to follow along visually. My handwriting was AWFUL, but it’s starting to get better.

8.  One of my teachers had a medical emergency and knew he was going to be out for a matter of time, and he requested that his students take on my project.  It was a nice voice of confidence, and I was honored to help out.

9.  So these two kids were fighting about someone’s rat in class (some kids in our school have rats they carry around as service animals to help treat their anxiety) and I shut the argument down before it affected the class at all just by ‘getting loud.’ That never works!!  I think the important part of that story is that I was able to not lose the trust of either student in the process.

10.  I am participating in this program with the State of New York to develop a senior-year class for the “Transition population,” who are essentially kids who wind up in remedial math at community colleges.  This may be a new post soon.

 

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4 Comments

  1. There is no like button on here, so just wanted to say I really enjoyed reading this post!

    • Carl Oliver

      Well this comment was much more enjoyable to receive than a “Like”! Thanks for reading!

  2. Nate Goza

    Great stuff Carl. I think we forget to focus on what we are doing right when we have so much we know we need to work on. It’s part of this job. I’m going to try to get my “10 good things” in this week. I’m interested in your road trip project. I actually had one pretty well brainstormed once, but never wrote anything down. It was pretty ambitious. I’m curious about yours.

  3. Ellie

    I am really interested in your “Transition population” work. I taught a class back 3 and 4 years ago called “CUNY At Home In College” that was meant to prep students for the CUNY COMPASS test and it allowed them to take it twice since they were having an academic intervention. My schools is starting something like that again, but in house and with the goal of students getting above an 80 on this last sitting of the NY State Integrated Algebra Regents. Would love to see your materials/curriculum to share with the teachers at my school who are also in the “Transition Population.”

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