I don’t know. I thought I was doing okay — dealt with a SmartBoard crisis, made good progress into the content of each of my classes. Yes, I’m only three school days in, and I’m rushing forward, like the train that I always think I’m on. And I was thinking “wow, I’m getting back in the groove of things.” However, I read Mythagon’s most recent post, and I’m more certain than ever that: I’m not.
I’m not unhappy. And I’m not all pie-in-the-sky. But I did have one big goal for this year, and that involved having a lot more group work and math-talk in the classroom. So far, we haven’t had that, not in any significant way. And it’s so important early on — so you can build the norms and show “hey, this is something we do.”. I hope I can get something group-work-y happening soon.
Here are some other random things from the start of the year:
1. When kids want to go to the bathroom, they just have to go like:
Then I’ll see it, and just gesture for them to go, without interrupting the rest of the class/lesson. (One of the middle school teachers mentioned this to me, and I think she said she got it from the Lemov book.)
Funny true story. When I introduced this to one of my classes, a student said: “Do I need to put one finger up for a number one and two fingers up for a number two?” I love kids.
2. I designed this poster for my Multivariable Calculus room. (It’s poster size.)
Each time we encounter a new Greek letter, I’m going to have a kid highlight the letter we’ve learned. We’ll see how many letters we’ve picked off by the end of the year.
3. The teacher I’m teaching Algebra II with this year is new to my school. In her old school, she renamed homework “home enjoyment.” It’s silly and corny, but at least it gets you thinking about homework as something other than work. (Too many negative connotations.) Last year, I tried going with the uber-dry phrase “daily practice.” Just to remind my kids what they were working on. I couldn’t stick with it. This year, I’m going to stick with home enjoyment. In all my classes.
4. I decided that I need to try to make sure I have at least one humorous thing in my smartboards for my Calculus and Algebra II class every day. I had this whole schtick setup on my smartboard…
… but then I decided I would print out a color picture of beebs, and write out the conversation for two histrionic students to act out in a script (while holding the picture of beebs over one of their faces).
5. I’m working SUPER hard to learn my kids’ names. But — if any of you know me in real life — you know this is perhaps my biggest challenge. I can barely get their names when they are in assigned seats and have name tents propped up. But I think I’m getting the hang of them. The worst is when I see one out of their natural habitat. Meaning: out of their seat. They might come into the math office. They might see me in the hallway. And they’ll start talking to me. And my brain just goes into overload. It’s embarrassing.
Luckily, I preempt all awkwardness around this by telling my kids this on their first day and joking about it. They know I’m bad, and they see me trying (and often failing) in class to come up with their names.
6. My non-teaching plate is full this year. I’m taking over the Upper School’s (read: high school) Student-Faculty Judiciary Committee. I’ve been a faculty representative on it for two year, and now I’m beginning my two year tenure as the “faculty advisor” (read: grand poombah). It requires a dauntingly scary amount of work. But in my opinion, it’s the best thing about my school. Which is why I’m willing to be dedicated to it.
I’m also helping create a Peer Observation Group at my school. I’m hoping it turns into a semi-formal-yet-still-informal, positive way for teachers to start migrating into other classrooms — like little bees — and collecting and cross-germinating all sorts of wonderful idea-pollen. My current feelings: I’m super excited to go look at other classrooms, while I am super anxious about anyone coming to see mine.
As well as helping advise the math club. And running the New York Math League and AMC.
More things will probably be added to my plate as the year goes on.
UPDATE: I forgot one more thing that worked well at the start of this year that I want to be sure to do next year. My co-adviser and I emailed our homeroom two days before the start of school, promising them a pancake breakfast if they all brought the locks for their lockers on the first day of school. Usually getting 11 kids to bring in their locker locks takes a week or longer. And involves a lot of chasing kids down individually. But this year, it was awesome. THEY ALL BROUGHT THEIR LOCKS.