Semester Reflection #MTBoS12days

I felt like a recent post I made was a little negative but I really learned a lot from this semester and I think most of my students did, too. I have a lot that I envisioned that just didn’t happen or didn’t happen the same way and I attribute that to just being a little overwhelmed at the beginning of the year. I had really been spoiled the last two years. I had only one prep with three other teachers that also taught only that one prep, and was living with my parents who did all the cooking and grocery shopping for me. Now, I’m the only one at my school teaching the four preps I have, plus National Honor Society, plus being a percussion tech for my boyfriend’s band, plus living on our own – it was a lot all at once. It was definitely a challenge, but I did a lot of great things with my classes that they learned from and enjoyed and I showed the faculty some stuff, too! Now that I am more accustomed to this school, I think I can do even more to help my students.

What Will I Start:

  • Spiraling homework
  • Planning my assessments along with my planning of the unit – I was fortunate to receive the files from the previous teacher when I got to the school so I have been adjusting his assessments so far. I figured that if I was good enough for him after two years, it was probably good for me. I think his assessments provided me with a great starting point, but now I’m ready to make my own (which is something I DREADED going into this school year).
  • Talking with the other math teacher in my school more about what we’re teaching. Even though we don’t teach any of the same classes, we’re both new at this (she’s in her second year teaching) and I want to be more collaborative within my school.

What Will I Stop:

  • Worrying that my students don’t like math/my class/me. Like a few people on Twitter said, students don’t like change. We all resist change. But as long as I know I’m trying all I can for them, I need to stop worrying about what the naysayers think all the time. 🙂

What Will I Continue:

  • Checking blogs, Twitter, and the MTBoS Search Engine for all of your amazing activities
  • Trying new things
  • Keeping my head up 😀

Quand je repense au semestre dernier, je connais le bon et le mauvais. Ce semestre sera meilleur.

Books #MTBoS12days

I used to read a ton. Back in middle school. Once I got to high school and we were forced to read certain books and I started spending more time on assignments and practicing and friends, my reading really dropped off. The last book I think I read for pleasure was Harry Potter 7. Through high school and college, I actually did (most of) the reading that was required for my education and French classes, but that was really it.

Book I’ve read since college: Embedded Formative Assessment by Dylan Wiliam (required by my old school’s math department)

Books I’m currently reading: All of my textbooks to try to figure out what should come next

Books I want to read: All of the good ones when I have time. I keep hearing about Teach Like a Pirate and Make It Stick so I would probably start with those.

I do still feel like I read a lot, but it is all in the form of tweets and blogs. That’s good enough for me right now.

Un jour, je vais lire pour le plaisir encore.

Semester Success #MTBoS12days

It is unfortunately kind of difficult for me to think of this semester having any element of success sometimes. This has probably been the hardest I have ever worked. I have four new preps in a new school. I did not connect very well with the kids in the first week and I blame that on the fact that I tried to do math games on the first day. The students were not ready for that and many immediately rebelled. I have taught high school summer school geometry before, so I thought I was prepared for high school teaching but many students did not appreciate my teaching style. And I don’t think my teaching style is radical in any way – I just don’t lecture very often and I don’t give them homework in the traditional way (meaning I give them up to 10 problems per night and only check it sometimes where they are used to being assigned 40 problems and having time to complete it in class). I was really beaten down in the first few weeks and it was hard to see the positives.

I did some activities that really backfired but I also did some activities that were great (and hopefully will blog about them soon). I was able to do Barbie Bungee in two classes and I believe those were successful even though I feel like they took longer than they should have. I was able to do an Absolute Value project in one class that many students cited as being helpful to their learning, even though when I assigned it less than half turned it in on time after 2 hours of class time on it. I was able to do some fun review activities, and even showed the staff one of them (I will blog about Quizizz soon) but still felt like those could have all gone better.

But, I guess it’s all worth it in the end. I gave my finals and the averages were fine. So that was one success that I was worried about. I also gave a semester reflection survey to the students. One question was “What can I do to help you learn better next semester?” My main responses were to let them do homework in class, less group work, and check all the homework/give more points, but I did get one response that really made me feel like I actually had a successful semester:

Honestly, to me, you shouldn’t change anything. I know some people don’t like your teaching style, but I love it and it has helped me so much. I’ve struggled with math my whole life and I never truly understood it until I got you as a teacher. So thank you so much for doing what you do and know I appreciate you so much!

This is a student who got a D on her first quiz, but in the end earned a 95% on her final exam and a 92% in the class. I feel like her comment really sums up how I’ve felt and also what I wanted to do. I knew I would be a different teacher than what they’ve experienced before, but I hoped to help my students see that they can all be successful in math. And, according to one of them anyway, I did.

Merci, étudiante, pour me montrer que j’ai réussi un peu ce semestre.

First Blogging Challenge! Holiday Favorites

I saw that @pamjwilson and @druinok put together a blogging challenge called #MTBoS12days “Yule Blog” challenge and I’m hoping this will kick start more blogging from me. So the first is a “My Holiday Favorite”. I’ve seen a bunch of awesome recipes come out of this but I’m the worst cook and actually have 0 recipes to share. I’m usually the “helper” for all family cooking functions – cut vegetables, measure out ingredients, etc. all while being supervised. I live off of pasta and frozen vegetables…

In fact, one of my favorite holiday memories is when I was making a cheesecake with my dad and he asked me to crack the eggs into the bowl. Well, that didn’t go too well and lots of egg shells ended up in the bowl. My dad and I did our best getting all of them out and thought we got them all and he went on to finish the cheesecake. We served the cheesecake to the family the next day and everyone was pretty impressed. I was starting to feel pretty proud of myself for helping with this and then my uncle takes his first bite. It seemed like the loudest crunch ever and everyone just bursted out laughing.

So writing that out makes it seem pretty silly, so I’ll also share a favorite inexpensive gift to give.

My friends never really got or gave gifts for the holidays, but we would usually go out to a fun or nice restaurant together. One year, I decided to change things up and brought a gift for everyone. I got a dollar scratch off lottery ticket for everyone and wrapped it with a piece of candy/chocolate. I’ve been doing that since then. It’s definitely cheap and is a little more exciting than the nothing we would usually give. And occasionally you’ll get some winners! It’s not the most original idea, either (I actually got the idea from my assistant principal, who did this for everyone she evaluated), but it’s still fun.

J’espère que je peux suivre ce défi!