I've decided to catalogue this year, my tenth year teaching! I'm going to write at least one Day in the Life post each month.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Monthly post - regular school day and a staff meeting
The alarm went off at 6. Checked to make sure Jordan was awake at 6:15. Made it out the door at 7. One student is already outside my room when I walk in. The rest trickle in, but everyone makes it before the bell at 7:24. So far so good. SET of the day is on the board and I walk around checking homework. I have half of their names down but the every other day schedule is tough for learning names, so I try to check the names on their sheets surreptitiously, a kid calls me on it and I fess up. I'll be there by the end of the week! We discuss homework; they were supposed to generalize to an equation and were totally stuck. I provided some wait time, gave them a little, provided some more wait time, gave a little more, provided some extensive wait time and they finally give in and guess something. I ask why they and they confess to guessing to end the silence! We discuss, they finally wake up and catch on, all is well. They take their first quiz and I introduce the purple/orange pen method. We do some work to lead into radians and some kids are quick while others are still thinking. I buy a raffle ticket for the volleyball team and that student tries to sell tickets to her neighbors - that's one way to give everyone else some think time! I explain what a radian is and we check out this awesome applet. I thought everyone was clear on what a radian was, but when we move through the applet only one student predicts it will take 6.28 radii to cover the whole circle. After we talk through that and sketch some angles, I'm sure they've got a handle on radians. But at the end of class we do some pattern finding and determine that adding 360 degrees gives a coterminal angle. We run out of time to collect class data on coterminal angles in radians but I toss the question out anyway and they have no idea what the pattern will be. They've known about the existence of radians for under an hour so I cut them some slack and tell them to think on it for next class. Now I just have to remember to start there on Friday. They journal and I pass out homework. Bell rings at 8:55.
We're supposed to spend the five minutes between classes but by the time I answer a couple questions, save the notes as a pdf in drive and set up for the next class. Soon I'll have those routines a bit quicker (and maybe my computer will be faster after the updates this afternoon?) I hope.
Honors Algebra files in. They are honors students in the sense that they solve the challenging puzzle I posed quicker than any other block, but they are still freshmen - I had to split up a group who couldn't stop the side conversations. They were productive through the rest of class. During a tangentially related discussion one student asked what other operations exist. When we did four fours on the first day I taught them factorials and they found some impressively large numbers. Class ended before they were convinced anyone had the largest value possible using four fours and apparently a few of them are still thinking about it! At the end of class students need to write in their journals, record their homework in the agenda books, put away binders and hand in their journals. It's a lot for them to keep track of but they're getting quicker at it! Bell rings at 10:26 and several students are still packing up, I go through my end of class routine and pack my bag up too.
I don't make it down to the first floor of the library before the bell but my two independent study kids know to claim us a table and wait. These two students are both in band which conflicts with the honors precalculus classes so I work with them during my prep block. I brought two iPads with me today - one for them to use to follow the slides I used first block, one for me to check my email. They said at first that they wanted to skip SET and have it as a reward at the end, then they saw the cards right there on the first slide and they couldn't resist. Before we start the quiz one of them is bragging about his TI-84 Plus CE. Then during the quiz he says, "I have some notes for TI!" Turns out he had typed 6/2pi and the calculator interpreted it as 6/2*pi. Luckily he recognized the error, the back and forth between enthusiasm and disdain was amusing. This pair is great fun to work with, totally worth not getting through all my tasks on my to do list! When I introduce radians they call them rad and radical. While they work on sketching angles I read an email from the new STEM coach about his observation of my class yesterday, he had lots of positive things to say! I graded all the quizzes as they started their homework, everyone did great except the student who was absent last class, hooray! Bell rings at 11:58 and we head off to lunch.
Lunch with math and business department teachers. Conversation bounces from classroom stories to stories from our college days. Bell rings at 12:28 and we head to class.
When I arrive in my room I find some inflatable globes stacked on my chair and a note on my desk:
Yay team precalc! I have David Coffey's number talk up on the board as students in my contained Algebra class come in. The tech support guy comes in to help troubleshoot - the notebook problem I had last week has been recurring and I sent out an SOS. He offers to update java and see if that helps. Not sure how they're related but fingers crossed. I noticed that one student had an equation written down for the number talk - I jump on that. Both because it's great to highlight that mathematical thinking and because my screen is frozen while the computer updates and it's easier to record equations on the white board than redraw the diagram. I get my computer back in time to show off the blueberries. We do a card sort and start discussing when the fire alarm goes off. I give them directions and head outside. I'm relieved to see a fireman observing at the top of the stairs and the truck already outside - it's a drill. We get outside, marvel at how hot it is out (88 degrees!) compared to this morning (I needed a sweater!) and then head back in. Hooray for efficiency! However, they lost their momentum. We got through the discussion but not much practice happened. Bell rings at 2:02 and the school day is over.
Staff meeting in the auditorium. We get a do now as we walk in asking us to share a good thing from our first week of school. I record mine and start reading and responding to student journals which include their good thing from the past week! Yay for one good thing. A couple precalc teachers sit near me and we plan to chat after the meeting. The music teacher who set up the independent study students with me also sits nearby and we discuss what a delight they are. Student council students share their plan for the year with the staff. We hear from a local foundation offering grants and some club announcements. The administration goes over the Tier I and Tier II interventions available at the school and I finish responding to student journals (yes, I know, I'm a bad role model but I gave up my prep and this is my seventh year here, I'm well versed in intervention plans). We get shiny new binders filled with materials on ALICE safety protocols, special gift from the fire department today. Training coming soon. As I head out of the meeting at 3:00 I let a few people know I'm double booked for meetings tomorrow morning (Algebra team and language based disability team are occurring simultaneously).
Catch up with the precalc teachers in my room. I ask what they've done and how it's gone. I ask what they want to do next. I share what I've done and discuss options for what to do next. Constant appreciation for new teachers pushing me to keep looking forward. One of them notices my student journals and ask if I respond to all of them. They're both overwhelmed and I try to make it clear - every year you do the best you can. I am teaching the same preps as last year. I have under 60 students (total!). It's my tenth year teaching. I have time to respond to journals. No one expects you to do that. Do what you can and take care of yourself. We leave at 3:50.
I have to run some errands. Get home at 4:30. Catch up online, have dinner, type this up and then head to bed!
1) Teachers make a lot of decisions throughout the day. Sometimes we make so many it feels overwhelming. When you think about today, what is a decision/teacher move you made that you are proud of? What is one you are worried wasn’t ideal?
I'm glad I gave students a lot of wait time in precalc and balanced asking for justification with not putting anyone on the spot. I think they're learning the culture of my classroom. In my observation notes on my other algebra class the coach said "I'm impressed at the early rapport you have with your students - they are clearly already willing to take risks in the classroom when participating." I'm excited to see that comfort emerging quickly in all of my classes.
I probably should have been more respectful during the faculty meeting. I was on my phone a bit since Jordan's ride was late and I graded throughout the meeting. Next time I'll resist the temptation to multi-task.
2) Every person’s life is full of highs and lows. Share with us some of what that is like for a teacher. What are you looking forward to? What has been a challenge for you lately?
I am looking forward to being caught up, it's a juggling act right now and I've decided to let all non-urgent email fall to the wayside. I'm building routines and settling in so I have faith it's going to happen soon. I love being in a place where I can help so many people, but having a freshman advisory, many freshman classes, a daughter who is a freshman and three new teachers in my department means my classroom has been a revolving door of people asking questions. Only getting a sort of prep is also having an impact - I can get a few things done while my independent study students work but I don't have access to everything. Once I have more grading this system will work out just fine but right now I need to do things that involve being in my classroom or running errands around the school. It's all getting done though, it always does.
3) We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is. As teachers we work to build relationships with our coworkers and students. Describe a relational moment you had with someone recently.
I have one student who I'm struggling to build a rapport with. She was feeling ill on Monday and absent yesterday so when she came in today I was full of smiles and telling her we missed her yesterday and hope she was feeling better. She asked to take a few breaks during class today and before the last one I asked her to do one more problem before leaving. I think she copied the work but she wrote something and so I let her go. We are still figuring each other out but for now I'm hoping to send the message of - you do something for me then I'll do something for you. Expectations will continue increasing but I'm going to reward anything close to what I ask for and see if we can keep the mood positive for the rest of the week!
4) Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year. What have you been doing to work toward your goal? How do you feel you are doing?
My goal is to create space for other people's ideas. During today's card sort I let students start by creating any groupings they'd like and I wasn't discouraging when they made a pile of all the cards that had a five on them even though I was working toward groups like rational, irrational and integer. I also asked what the precalc teachers had done and were thinking before telling them my lesson plans. Progress!
5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?
Since I just posted my first day last week not much is new!