Summer has officially ended for my school-to-be. All the teachers are packing up and preparing for a much needed summer break.
I, however, am doggedly planning easy to modify lessons for students that I have never met, at a grade level that I have never taught, in a classroom that I have never seen, with co-workers I haven’t spoken to, in a town that I don’t live in yet. Nope, I’m not worried one little bit. (And if you believe that, I’ve got some ocean front property here in Nevada that I can sale you dirt cheap!)
I just found Sarah Hagan’s blog Math Equals Love which is full of interesting ideas and foldables. I’m not quite sure that I am as in love with foldables as Sarah is, but I’m planning on using one or two in the coming semester. I also loved her start of the year lesson plan and take on a syllabus, which she borrowed from Dan Meyer. And now I borrow from both of them. (As I tell my own kids all the time: We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just paint it a different color.) I still have to hand out a three page disclosure form which my math department uses, but at least now I’ll know that the students will have at least processed the main parts of what they need to know for my classroom.
It is official! I am teacher! I have my license and everything. I’ve been hired to an exciting position at a school where I will be teaching 10th-12th graders the ins and outs algebra, geometry, and even a little trig! I am so excited that I can hardly sit still. I’ve got two classes each of Secondary Mathematics I, Secondary Mathematics II, and Secondary Mathematics II Honors (and two preps). The classes are held on an alternating A-B schedule and are typically 82 minutes long.
I have already started religiously planning my lessons and activities for the first few weeks of school. Unfortunately, I have not yet received the materials that the current teachers used this year. Right now, I am flying bind, completely aware that I might have to redo all the work I am completing now in order to adhere to my new department’s PLC policies. I can’t help it. They haven’t even finished their school year yet, but I have been out of college for a month! What else am I suppose to do with my time? Especially with my own kids still in school.
My biggest worry about next school year: time management. With the class periods being so long and having 3 classes to prepare for, I am worried that I won’t have enough interesting material to keep the student’s attention throughout the day. I also don’t want to be up til midnight EVERY night planning for the next day and never eating dinner with my family. That is a sure way to burn out and waste my teaching degree.
I had two extraordinary mentors for my student teaching, Kirtus Langston and John Gardella, both thirty year veterans of the craft, both still willing to learn and change and grow. I was lucky to have them both. Everyday I was able to see two different approaches to similar situations. But, when it came down to the time when I was in charge, they let me try it my way and were there to support me if I succeed or failed. They are still ready to support me in my first year as a teacher.
I am so excited to begin.
Several of my math classmates and I were lucky enough to be able to attend the NTCM 2013 regional conference in Las Vegas. It was an exciting and informative experience. It was a relief of sorts to realize that many of the main topics discussed, such as explaining the meaning behind why a short cut might work and incorporating literacy into the mathematical classroom, were things that we had already been covering in our Methods and Curriculum courses. I was in dire fear that everything I heard at the conference would be completely different from what I was currently being taught.
The last few days have left me run down, yet exhilarated. My boys are thrilled because I came back bearing awesome gifts such as pencils that read “I love math” and posters that say “Math is pi-ping HOT.” My four grader was the one that pointed out to me that hot could stand for ‘higher order thinking.’ so much for my higher order thinking skills.
My companions and I spent hours talking about how we could incorporate literacy into our classroom, differentiating our teaching for gifted students, which supplemental materials we would use in our classrooms to encourage deeper thinking in our students, and debating the differences between calculator brands. We spent even longer collaborating and brainstorming ideas that would take Dan Meyer’s advice to “make math more like a video game” to heart. (More on our ideas in future posts.)
For now, I just wanted to say that I am excited and proud to be a small part of a collaborative, inviting, and instructional group that are known as math teachers.
Ps. I would post some sort of crazy “I went to Vegas” picture here. But we don’t have any. We were in our jammies by 8, and in bed at 11. We spent the night doing our homework and chatting over pizza. What a wild and crazy bunch, huh?
While my first foray into the blogosphere might not be full of original ideas and practical math for the classroom (I am still in the process of getting my Math Education Degree. Last year, yay!), I did find an awesome idea that people have been using in the workplace that can easily be adapted for the classroom. A Lego Wall Calendar, which is tactile, fun, and easy to read from a distance. Hats off to Vitamins (the British company who started this one) for also creating a software which allows anyone to take a picture of the calendar and upload it to their Google Calendar. They are even promising to make the software free online in the next few months. 🙂