Title: Public High School Mathematics Teacher
Current Courses (2015-2016):
Fundamentals of Algebra 1 (co-taught, double block, small class of students who all have learning disabilities)
Algebra 1 (co-taught, inclusion class with ~20 students, mixed regular-ed, ELL and learning disabled)
Algebra 1 Support (subset of the Algebra 1 course who need extra support to reach grade level, intention is to pre-teach Algebra 1 content and build up prerequisite skills)
Honors Pre-Calculus (class of ~25 students)
Past Courses: Pretty much everything high school (Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-Caclulus/Calculus combo, AP Calculus) with lots of special ed mixed in.
I student taught in Holyoke, MA, spent 3 years in Lawrence, MA and am in my sixth year in Salem, MA. If you know anything about Massachusetts then you've figured out that I like teaching in urban, high needs districts. Salem is a diverse community (truly diverse, as opposed to Lawrence which is homogenous but not the same as the surrounding middle-class, white communities). We have immigrants from all over (though they are predominantly hispanic), keep nearly all of our special education students in district (which puts us at around 30% of the population on an IEP or 504 - did you know that living in poverty can cause slow processing speeds and decrease working memory? It doesn't matter whether the learning disabilities were nature or nurture, they are still a major fixture of our classrooms), many students are bilingual, around 10% are in the ELL program and over 50% receive free or reduced lunch. As someone who grew up in suburbia I value the many perspectives that my students share and am truly impressed with how well students learn to get along with their peers. I miss being across from the life skills classroom where I could teach my students how to interact with these differently abled students, but I still have plenty of opportunities to teach students to get along now that I'm teaching ninth grade.
I am the author of Nix the Tricks and have enjoyed the opportunity to attend conferences and speak about the project. Not only do I get to talk about an exciting topic, I get to meet many people in person who I've known via MTBoS interactions! The book is filled with alternatives to the tricks so prevalent in mathematics education and explains exactly why they are so bad for understanding math. Head over to the site to see our suggested alternatives and share your own.
This past summer was my first relatively unscheduled summer after 8 years in a row spending a large chunk of my summer break at math camp (total dork and proud of it). I've been to PROMYS (Boston University) and PCMI (Institute of Advanced Studies) and would highly recommend both summer programs. This year I only attended TMC (Twitter Math Camp). Which hardly seems like a fair sentence since it is amazing and worth saving/scheduling for starting right now! The 'only' applies to the brevity of the program which is necessary, but sad nonetheless. If you'd rather listen to me talk about summer programs than read the webpages, check out the Infinite Tangents Podcast, Episode 103.
My favorite forms of professional development are twitter (@crstn85) and reading blogs. The #matheme page is a great place to see what big ideas we've been talking about. At last count I followed 131 math teacher blogs. If anyone knows how to share a Digg Reader category let me know, although you'd have to be a bit insane to want to comb through that list! A more approachable way to begin your exploration of twitter and blogs would be to browse the Explore MTBoS site or search for people with common interests using the MTBoS Directory.
The Day in the Life project started as a #matheme but turned bigger. I would love to see it expand even further and am always looking for ways to share it with the general public. If you run into anyone talking about how easy teachers' jobs are, would you do us all a favor and send them to the website? Podcast episode on this too: Episode 106.
Since being a teacher is a challenging job, we need both One Good Thing and Productive Struggle. One Good Thing is a place for us to share our favorite moments from each day, the reasons we teach and the small celebrations of our and our students accomplishments. Teaching is exhausting and burnout happens all too often, the One Good Thing blog reminds us why it's worth the effort. On the other hand, we all struggle. We have lessons that flop despite careful planning, and that's normal! Instead of hiding our difficulties, we should share them and ask the community for help. Productive Struggle is a place to get advice and put all of our expertise together to turn failures into successes. (Also discussed in podcast Episode 103.)