Prepping for Fourth Quarter #MTBoS2020

Jennifer @jenfairbanks8 has set up a monthly blogging challenge described here You should join! And if you’re just here to read, then I hope you get something out of it! It turned into a pretty long post in the end and is kind of all over the place.

At the time I’m writing this, the US is experiencing a pandemic with COVID-19. Schools, restaurants, gatherings across the country are shutting down. I am in my Spring Break right now but then one more week has been canceled after that (for all of Illinois). The nearby Iowa schools are closed until April 10, so I have a feeling we’ll be extending our cancellations, too. There has been no report from my school yet on if we will be doing e-learning like a lot of other schools, but I don’t really know how we would since we are not 1-1 with anything and a good chunk of our learners don’t have reliable internet at home. I’m sure I’ll be hearing in the next couple of days on a further plan for the closed week(s). My night class at the community college has us trying out video conferencing to replace our classes. We’ll see how that goes on Thursday.

I did a really poor job of preparing for 4th quarter before I left for Spring Break. I thought I’d be at school every day of my second week of Spring Break because I signed up to help with our Catch Up Academy (credit recovery) and I just figured I’d come in early or stay late a couple of days to get work done. I also had to leave right after school on our last Friday for a band event I was already late to, so my room is not all nice and pretty and ready like I usually try to have it be when I return after a break. My school is closed to everyone so I can’t even go in to grab all the school stuff I left there. I’m a tiny bit worried about my plants that I thought only had to be without checking-on for a week, but they’re aloe and a terrarium that I never touch normally, so they should be ok.

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[Totally off-topic: I got an orchid at home last year and it did its normal thing and lost its petals after a few months, but my mom said that it would grow back if I just kept treating it like I did when it had petals and this week we got our first bloom! I honestly can’t believe it worked. We have a bunch more buds coming, too. It’s like magic that I’ve been waiting many months for the reveal. You can even see some of the petals I still haven’t cleaned up from when they fell last fall…And also the plant behind the orchid is a bromeliad we got last month and it might be my new favorite. Our succulents finally all died so we got a much brighter replacement that is so far very easy to manage and is doing great! I’m a big fan of live plants but I (used to) have a hard time keeping them alive.]

But I brought home my laptop and my Always-Go-Home folder! (Side note: do you have one of those? I have a purple folder I’ve had since my first year of teaching that has come home with me every day – it holds my calendar, a pencil, and anything else that is important/needs to stay at home/random one paper that needs to be graded/etc.) I also wrote up every topic that still needs to be taught before I left for break (woo for thinking a little ahead!).

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So this is our first year with traditional Geometry instead of integrated courses and then our Algebra 1 last year was all kind of spliced together as best we could from the old integrated courses and now we have a textbook that I don’t use but it’s there if the learners want it. So I have some topics I’ve taught before and just have to re-label them with the new chapter. Or I’ll have to move around some assessment items. I have a slash through Geo Ch 8 because I already actually did all the planning for that before I left since we left in the middle of the unit. I honestly think right triangles and trig is my favorite unit of all in Geometry. Or maybe the 3D stuff. It’s hard to decide.

I have never taught my new Algebra 1 Ch 10 (except I’ve taught exponential graphs and operations on functions). I’ve also never taught my new Geometry Ch 12 (but I have a strong feeling that is going to be cut with us having less time and we coded it “if possible” in our pacing guide). What have you done with those topics that I should try?

It’s a weird feeling to have so many things be repeated from years’ past. I’ve never had that before. I’ve maybe had a topic or two within a unit, but this is the first year I’ve taught a class for the second time (Algebra I) and even that has had quite a few differences from last year when it was our first year of the transition. I feel myself looking at my saved Evernote notes and in the MTBOS Search Engine for activities or strategies and then finding the ones I was already using! That’s not to say there are no new and improved lessons being done. I’ve done a lot more Desmos and VNPS and Stand and Talk activities along with replacing some practice with Delta Math. But it’s a good feeling to know that I can be working on refining instead of coming up with something new.

I also feel that because of this not having to come up with new stuff semester, I’ve just felt like more of a teacher that has her stuff together. I’m not as worried about what I’m teaching tomorrow and I can worry more about the pedagogy and/or relationships. That leads me to how I’m doing in my goals for the year. I’ve already checked in on my goals here and here. This will be my last check-in.

  • Stand and Talks – Amazing. I have been doing a few each unit. Want to do more. I want to get more organized with how I save them, too. That’s a long-term project.
  • Collection of Work/Knowledge – so this goal shifted a little, but I’ve loved the outcome. So far this semester I’ve given my learners five minutes in the day before an assessment to write on a notecard everything they know for that assessment. Some learners take it less seriously than others, but most are really into it and making pretty great notecards. I always phrase it as something like “Write what you want your future self to know before they go into final exams.” We’ve been keeping these in our class folders and I can’t wait to see how much it helps by the end of the semester. Maybe I’ll even write a blog post about it!
  • Birthdays – Might be one of my favorite additions to this year. I now will have some catching up to do when we get back to school, but it’ll be ok.
  • Instagram – I still haven’t gotten learners to take the pictures. Maybe that will have to be next year’s goal. But I realized that a whole lot of the pictures I was taking were learners on a Chromebook (sometimes just one Chromebook in a group, sometimes 1-1) and the other pictures were just the “pretty” moments where something ultra-cool was going on. So I started to post more of just regular old class (like working on a worksheet or taking notes or at the VNPS) and captioning it with what they’re working on and I’ve gotten the same amount of interactions. So I’m gonna keep doing that.
  • Vocabulary – nope. Move this goal to next year.
  • Family Connections – still strong. I’ve been a lot more proactive this semester about contacting home and have picked up my phone more. I feel like I have more time to do this because I’ve been more organized and have less new stuff to plan.
  • Language – another goal for next year.
  • #VNPS – it’s been much better this semester. I did a fun one in geometry right before break where I showed them four right triangles with a variable for a side or angle. As a group they could only use each solving method once and answers had to be as exact as possible: Pythagorean Theorem, Special Right Triangles, Right Triangle Trig, and Inverse Right Triangle Trig. At first, it was rough to make those decisions but as they were able to look around the room at how other groups solved maybe the same one with another method they were doing great at it. Then I gave them word problems with the same rules and I was so smiley because they were groaning so much but then did fine. I need to do better at having one marker per group.


  • Delta Math – still great
  • Puzzles – I kinda left those 3D printed polyhedra pieces out the whole quarter on accident. There are a handful of broken pieces, but that has led to new possibilities of what to build! I intended to change out these for tiling turtles earlier, but they just never got boring so I never thought to change it. Turtles are coming 4th quarter, though.
  • Not Working Harder Than Students – better than it ever has been before, I think
  • Not Blaming – still check
  • Office Hours – still check
  • Google Level 2 – still not yet – pushed to summer
  • More Percussion –  need to do more
  • More #MTBoS –  yes! I feel like I’ve been more involved just because of #MTBoS20 but also I’ve been catching up on reading blogs I’ve saved in my Feedly more and have been posting about some of the things I’m reading on Twitter.
  • Cooking –  these next couple of weeks will really test this. Grocery stores around me have been out of lots of things like chicken and pasta for a while. It’s weird. But I just made orange juice out of a box of fundraiser “clementines” that were pretty terrible in texture but fine in flavor. The juice is so so so good! Took me back to when I’d make orange juice from my Bubbie’s oranges she grew when we were with them in Florida but on a much smaller scale. Also tried some DIY citrus cleaner from the peels and we’ll see how that turns out in a couple of weeks.

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  • #FitBoS – determined to make it happen this month since I’ll have some extra free time. March WILL be the month I meet my goal (and continue to meet it).

Wow that was a lot but I honestly feel good after writing it all. This is shaping up to be a great teaching year for me and I’m just hoping I get to finish it.

Cette pandémie vraiment force nous à refaire nos modes de vie.

Goal Check-In #MTBoS2020

I’m so excited that Jennifer @jenfairbanks8 has set up a monthly blogging challenge described here: I’ve been a little more active on my blog this year than some past years, but I am still someone that needs that little push of motivation to make things really happen. This blogging challenge is just 12 posts in a year, so I think I can manage. You should join! And if you’re just here to read, then I hope you get something out of it!

It’s been (a little over) half a school year and I only really revisited my 2019-2020 goals once back in the first midquarter. Should have been checking in more for sure. But better late than never, right? Here it is:

  • Stand and Talks – still going well. I definitely fell off the wagon a bit at the end of last semester but I’m back on it and have done two in these first two weeks of the new semester. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should! Check out more info here from Sara:
  • Collection of Work – It may be kind of an abandoned goal at this point, but I think I’m going to adjust it a bit and have my learners make basically a study sheet that they keep in their class folders (where all of their assessments and Grade Trackers live in my classroom). I saw it in an old post from Pam here I think I can make it work really well. All my classes have their first quiz on Wednesday so I think I’m going to have them make the start of it tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes.
  • Birthdays – still going strong. I realized, though, that since I only have about 2/3 of the same learners in 2nd semester because of schedule changes, I have a bunch that I never got to. But it’s actually been nice because I still usually see them in the hallway and it’s fun to just check in with them and see how their new classes are treating them.
  • Instagram – still great. This quarter I WILL have learners start taking the pics. I had a bit of a trust issue last semester where a lot of my puzzles and some other things were going missing and never got returned. I hope that in this semester that doesn’t happen and I can let the learners have a little bit of the control.
  • Vocabulary – Hmm I really need to do more with this. Need to project vocab more while groups are working.
  • Family Connections – I’m happy with what I’ve done. I had all my classes take a Pre-Class survey at the beginning of the semester and had FormMule send an email home when they submitted that was structured a lot like what I found here in Kristen’s post: So every guardian with an email address got contacted in the first week. Calling is still hard, but after we have this first assessment I’ll have more to call about.
  • Language – Need to focus on this more.
  • #VNPS – still can do more, but it’s been better than in previous years.
  • Delta Math – going strong and I even wrote a blog post about it a couple months ago!
  • Puzzles – I kind of redesigned a little bit of my room because I had to get rid of my mini-fridge (which was also being used as a shelf for lots of other stuff) and that allowed me to have a better “play table” aka extra desk in a somewhat awkward spot. But I was able to have one of my friends 3D print some puzzle pieces for polyhedra and it’s been so fun watching them create.


  • Not working Harder Than Students – The beginning of the semester always feels like a whirlwind of never having enough time to get everything done, but it’s started to settle down and I think it’s going to still be good.
  • Not Blaming – still check
  • Office Hours – still check
  • Google Level 2 – still not yet, but I did retake the Level 1 test and passed just in time for me to give a presentation at a district PD so I could still say I was Level 1 Certified (like I mean it happened the night before 🙂 ) I think Level 2 will be more of a summer project.
  • More Percussion –  I haven’t played that much in the last few months. I should do more.
  • More #MTBoS –  I’m doing it with #MTBoS2020!!!
  • Cooking –  I acquired a bunch of bananas from a band event and froze them and asked my classes and the #MTBoS and other people for recipes to use them and I ended up with a bunch of different banana bread recipes that are all good, banana bread brownies that are amazing and I brought to my family’s holiday dinner, banana pudding (don’t do it with frozen bananas if you want it to look appetizing), and banana smoothies. All so good and I feel so accomplished. Also have a new favorite where I cook up chicken, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and some sort of broth with a bunch of herbs and whatever else needs to be used and put it over rice. It’s not from a recipe, but it makes me feel so adult and reminds me of how my mom cooks. I haven’t tried too many new recipes for the Instant Pot or any of my other cooking tools since the summer, though. That should change!
  • #FitBoS – Didn’t make it for 2019. I’m kind of sad about it, but I worked out 108 hours over the year. In 2018 I only did 72 hours, in 2017 I did 92 hours, and in 2016 (the only year I met my goal) I did 100 hours. So I still had the best year yet for working out, and I want to keep doing better. So I set my new 2020 goal for 120 hours and I am gonna meet this one! Who’s with me? Read about it from Meg and sign up here:

A new thing for this semester is I’m teaching a night class at the local community college! It’s Intermediate Algebra, and we meet twice a week for an hour and forty minutes. We’ve only met twice so far and I had a few kinks to work out in the online grading system (Canvas syncing with MyMathLab was not going super well at first), but everything seems to be good now and I have 10 great learners. The class is a pre-requisite course for the first for-credit math class, so that’s why I’m allowed to teach it without a Masters in Math. I’m so excited for this opportunity and just have to say it’s so refreshing to be in a class with these adult learners. I think it’s a mix of growing up and being more mature with also having a clear goal in mind (and also paying for the class) that just makes more learning seem to actually happen. It does mean I have less free time to get to some of my goals, but I am adjusting.

Alright so I am setting another reminder in Google Keep to check in with goals at the end of the quarter and this time I’m actually going to do it. I hope. But at the very least, I’ll have a few more #MTBoS2020 posts before then.

Quelquefois, on doit recevoir les rappels. C’est normal, n’est-ce pas?

2019-2020 Midquarter 1 Check-In

I had set a reminder for myself to check in on my goals that I posted about before school starts. So here I am checking in.

  • Stand and Talks: LOVE IT! I have done at least one a week in my two different classes. Not only does it get them up and moving and talking about math, but it also helps them remember a lot better. I am still referencing stand and talks I did in week 2.


  • Collection of Work: Haven’t done it yet
  • Birthdays: It’s working! See this post.
  • Instagram: LOVE IT! Check out @MrsGraysonMath. I get way more engagement on it than my class Twitter and the learners want to get on the ‘gram. I haven’t had the learners take pics yet. Maybe will soon.
  • Vocabulary: Falling short on this one. This is a good reminder to think more about it.
  • Family Connections: Yeah the calling every phone number didn’t happen. But maybe it will soon. Also haven’t taken advantage enough of the schedule send in gmail. However, I have gotten a great response through email from families and I have fewer families that do not have an email address. I have made a fair amount of calls, but all were more on the “I’m noticing ___ falling behind” side and not enough on the welcoming to my class side.
  • Language: Need to focus on this more.
  • #VNPS: I’m doing ok. It’s been a lot of individual work at the boards, but that’s ok. I learned from a PD at the MMC Conference of Workshops last year about having learners draw the stem of a flower and add a petal for each problem they get right and I call it garden growing time. It is one of the times I have evidence of 100% engagement. The other time is Stand and Talks. I want to do more tasks where the groups are working together at the boards.
  • Delta Math: Going great. On assignment 2 so far.
  • Puzzles: I had a heartbreaking moment when my first hanayama puzzle that I put out (that I had had since I was in high school) went missing in the first week of school. I made a Wanted Poster for it. It still hasn’t turned up. So I kind of gave up on the posters, but I’m probably gonna go the route of Sarah Carter and make some laminated puzzles.

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  • Working Harder Than Students: I feel like I am accomplishing this. Although I’ve felt more behind than ahead and I am changing that this weekend.
  • Not Blaming: Check
  • Office Hours: Check
  • Google Level 2: Not yet – set a reminder for October Break. Also found out my Level 1 Certification expired. Didn’t realize it was only good for 3 years.
  • More Percussion: I bought a pair of Audio-Technica headphones when they were on sale on Amazon and now I’m playing drumset way more! I feel so much better playing it. I wish I could play percussion in a community band, but I’ll take what I’ve got.
  • More #MTBos: Yeah it’s been better. Could do more.
  • Cooking: I’ve been focusing on cooking what’s in my garden/what’s from my coworkers gardens that I’ve traded for. Made three batches of tomato sauce (no recipes, just blanch and peel a ton of tomatoes, add all the other things like carrots, peppers, herbs, and don’t forget tomato paste!) and discovered how amazing an immersion blender is. Also really sped up the process of making this zucchini blueberry cake with lemon buttercream frosting by using a hand mixer. SOOOOOO YUMMMMMMY!
  • #FitBos: So I didn’t meet my goal for August, but I did get 84% of my goal accomplished. Considering how hectic the beginning of the year is, I’m not disappointed. I know I can do better in September now that things have gotten more into a routine. I’ve been working out in our school’s fitness center a couple days a week with one of my coworkers and it’s been awesome. She’s retiring this year and I will miss her a lot, but she’s a beast. I’ve also lost some weight and feel good!

It has been great to check in and really see what’s been accomplished and what still needs work. This year’s been going well so far. I am excited for the rest to come. I think I might try to make this a regular thing.

Je suis fière de moi. J’ai fait beaucoup!

Goals for 2019-2020 School Year


So I do this fun thing where I have my Feedly following a ton of #MTBoS blogs and I can never keep up but I’ll read a few a day for a while and I’ll bounce between looking at the newest to the oldest to scrolling to somewhere in the middle. I’m now at all blogs between 3 months ago and 23 months ago. And guess what was coming back 23 months ago – Sunday Funday! I am pretty sure I missed it then, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it now! So the first prompt was Goals. And here are mine.

(P.S. 24 months ago was #TMC17 and it looks like I missed out on some awesome stuff, but it’s still so fun to see all the excitement in everyone’s blog posts and I really wish I could have gone and seen my #TMC16 friends again because I don’t know if I ever will again and I miss them and that was the best time ever)

START in the Classroom:

  • Stand and Talks (Thank you Amy for confirming that this is amazing in this post and reminding me of it). I am so so so excited about these and I think my students will really be successful with them. Could #debatemath be tied into this?
  • Incorporate some sort of collection of work probably in Google Slides where I have at least one thing from each student. I’m thinking something like Jeniffer’s Review ebook. But I want to have students adding to it all year, maybe?
  • Make a bigger deal about birthdays. Every learner will get a day for them.
  • Class Instagram. Still do the class Twitter, but add Instagram and maybe even have learners be the ones that take the pics. When I asked Twitter about this, I got an overwhelming response to do both!
  • Focus on Vocabulary! I’m teaching Geometry for the first time since I taught it in summer school for a couple years back when I first started teaching. Vocab can really be a killer there, but there’s also a ton of vocab in Algebra I that I should have already focused on. I have a high ELL population and this will help them so much along with helping my other learners. I don’t know where in my room I can do a Word Wall, but I’m also thinking of doing something like Tally Talks from Sara and more Desmos Polygraph with Andrew’s Vocab Jar. I also think just having vocab projected on the board during #VNPS and Stand and Talk time and all the time will be super helpful and super doable.

(RE)CONTINUE in the Classroom:

  • Family Connections. Call every working phone number once at the beginning of the year to introduce to the class. If I get behind, I can not call the five that show up to open house. Last year was the first year I didn’t do this and I definitely felt like there were families I never connected with, even with my Weekly Summaries. And now that my district is using Gmail, I want to take advantage of the Schedule Send to make sure I don’t forget about my unit newsletters. I need to keep family communication a priority.
  • Focus on my language. I’ve done pretty well with changing “students” to “learners”, and I started being good about not using “guys” but fell off the wagon there. Gotta get back on that wagon and also maybe add that I’m not gonna say “point” for decimals (totally agree with Sara here because my biggest setback with using Delta Math this year was rounding). This also makes me think of the “13 Rules That Expire” by Karp, Bush, and Dougherty and I saw their presentation at NCTM Chicago Regional 2017 and it wanted me to change all my words. Also Nix the Trix. But I’m gonna try to start small and go with stopping saying “guys” and “point” this year.
  • More #VNPS. I have a room with a pretty good setup of Vertical whiteboards. They don’t erase very well, but I have students that usually enjoy cleaning them in my Advisory. I need to utilize them more than I did last year.
  • Delta Math. I went a couple years with not really giving practice for homework. But last year I added in Delta Math and we did plenty of it in class but I ended up having a due date because it actually helped a bit with motivation. I learned a lot about assigning Delta Math and how much is appropriate. I also know that most of my colleagues will be using MathXL (we piloted it last year) and Delta Math is way more accessible to my students outside of school because they can do it much easier on their phones. My Delta Math assignments will continue to be unit-long assignments that don’t get graded until the end, but I will have recommended due dates for certain topics.
  • Puzzles. This year I kept a few Hanayama metal puzzles and the year before I had Christopher’s Tiling Turtles. I think it’s a guarantee that at least one thing will end up broken/lost, but maybe that’s worth it for the joy it creates. Gotta find somewhere besides my desk to keep them…or maybe I don’t because it’s good to keep an eye on them. Decisions for later.

STOP in the Classroom:

  • Working harder than most of my students.
  • Blaming their Standards Based Grading history (Freshman year is the first year they don’t have SBG) on their attitudes. I need to focus on what we can do now to help.
  • Feeling bad when I’m not available to help after school every day. I need to set office hours and realize that one kid that was asking for help that one day will be ok waiting a day or two or help them help themselves.


  • Become Google Level 2 Certified.
  • Play more percussion.
  • Be more involved in the #MTBoS because the times when I am, I am the happiest.
  • Learn to cook 1 new thing every month. I can no longer say I’m a terrible cook like I used to 🙂 but I still would like more variety and after getting married and getting stuff from the registry I have all the kitchen tools to make more cooking happen!
  • Stay in #FitBos. The Married 15 was no myth. My biggest fear (no joke) is having to shop for new clothes because I hate shopping for clothes.

I already set a reminder in Google Keep to check in with this post to see how I’m doing in a month. There’s a lot of goals here, but if I keep checking in, I am confident I can do a lot of them this year.

Je suis la plus heureuse quand je suis avec vous, le #MTBoS.

Reflection on 2018-2019 School Year

A couple days ago I posted my 2018-2019 Teacher Report Card Results. The feedback I got from students was more positive than I expected, actually. This wasn’t the most awesome year, but I’ve come to realize that there is actually more good that happened than bad. This post gets kind of mopey but that was kind of the year I had and it ends up being a more positive reflection.

I reflected on my first quarter here. I feel like I accomplished what I wanted to in second quarter – my Algebra I students did some great stuff with graphing lines and systems. It definitely was a fun quarter with lots of Desmos and lots of learning. My Honors Math II class also got to do my and their favorite unit – trigonometry.

Second semester was where things started to go a bit downhill. My school has decided to switch from an integrated pathway to a traditional one. So this year was the first year that we had Algebra I instead of Integrated Math I. I had to pilot a unit from two curricula to inform the district before they made a decision. We tried a unit from CPM and a unit from Pearson EnVision. I desperately wanted everything to go great with CPM because I know it’s got a great philosophy and great problems and great PD and just seems like the ideal curriculum. But it totally bombed with my classes. I think it was mostly attributed to us just doing one unit in the middle of the year (actually it was the first unit back from Winter Break and was marred by a bunch of snow/ice days/early releases), but the students kind of revolted against all the words and were very expressive of how they didn’t feel like they were learning. I felt pretty down about myself as a teacher because I felt I should have been able to teach my students well with CPM. And then when we got to trying Pearson, I felt like we got more regular weather and also more “regular” textbooks. I didn’t really use the textbooks all that much but I know my colleagues preferred them. I fully believe that with more (than two hours of) training and a little bit better circumstances, we could have been super successful with CPM, but I guess we’ll never know.

I got my first complaint to the district office from a parent. Apparently my playing of the Quadratic Formula Song three or four times in a row to help my honors class memorize it was “damaging to my student’s mental health”. I learned about this about two weeks after the fact from my principal coming in laughing and saying it shouldn’t affect my teaching and that this was one of the funniest complaints he’s heard, but I honestly wasn’t laughing about it. I never heard anything from the student or parent myself and it made me feel like I should put no more effort into having fun. But then I realized that I can’t please everyone and me moping about it wasn’t helping all my other students, some of whom were still singing the Quadratic Formula song to themselves or making up songs to other things.

I also had a really tough time with relationships this year and especially second semester. I felt like no matter how hard I tried to connect, I wouldn’t get any closer to having good relationships and motivating my students. The other teachers on my team expressed the same things. I remember saying multiple times how this should have been the easiest year so far in terms of workload and not having lots of outside of work stuff going on, but this year I felt like I was working so much more than I ever had. I ended up having the highest percentage of students failing my class than ever and no matter how many different things I tried, nothing was working. Until I started having my students do Advocating Forms! I learned about these from Sara from her post The #1 thing I did in my support math classes. I will try to blog about those myself some time because they really made a difference!

I also learned right at the start of second semester that three of my students had attempted suicide over Winter Break and that really screwed me up for a while. Even though I was assured that they had nothing to do with my class, I was so scared of doing anything that could provoke suicidal feelings. It still bothers me that I don’t really know what happened, but I also am sure now that relationships are even more important. And not just my relationships with the students, but how the students treat each other. I need to do more to make sure my students treat each other with respect 100% of the time and value each others’ thoughts.

I also need to not get too down on myself if my efforts aren’t working. I know that’s easy to say and not so easy to do, but this post will serve as a reminder that I am putting in effort and that’s what matters. When I fail at something, I need to do what I tell my students every day and have a growth mindset and keep trying. Especially because I really wasn’t totally failing – we still accomplished a lot of great things this last semester and I know my students learned a lot.



So yeah, in the end, I guess it was a big learning year. I learned:

  • Sometimes there are circumstances that cause something to not work so well, but that’s ok. Recognize when things are out of your control and move on to doing the cool things you’re doing to help the kids.
  • You can’t please everyone and don’t let one student hurt others
  • It’s imperative that all students treat each other with respect in my room. I can make this happen more by incorporating activities where students are valuing each others’ thoughts. I look forward to doing more #VNPS and more debate and CPM group strategies and Stand and Talks (another one from Sara) and some more that I’ll try to blog about later.
  • Even though some things aren’t working, you can’t forget about the stuff that is working and keep trying at those other things.

L’année prochaine sera meilleure!

2018-2019 Teacher Report Card Results

I thought about not posting because everyone will see and I didn’t think the results were great but then I realized how helpful it is for me in my reflection. Now that I’ve really looked the results over thoroughly, I realize it’s not as bad as I thought. In all my Likert scale questions, my scores decreased from last year. But not drastic. There were some scores and comments that stung and then some that made me realize that my students didn’t all hate everything as much as some of them made it seem…a reflection on the year post is to follow with more goals for next year. But for now, the survey…

Here’s the survey I used (it will force you to make a copy if you want to see it): It was modeled after Matt Vaudrey’s Teacher Report Card and others that I’ve seen over the years and adapted from my previous ones.

I had 96 out of 125 students respond. I posted the survey in Google Classroom in the last week of school while we were studying for finals and gave about 20 minutes in class to do it one day, but it took most students about 10-15 minutes and they said it was very long. This is a mix of my one Honors Geometry class and my four Algebra I classes. It is mostly freshmen.

I think that Mrs. Grayson:

  • Respects each student: 4.71
  • Tries to understand her students: 4.35
  • Does a good job of treating all students how they deserve to be treated: 4.57
  • Explains topics clearly: 3.64
  • Seems to enjoy teaching: 4.41
  • Shows interest in students’ lives: 3.83
  • Makes me feel important: 3.80
  • Keeps the class under control without being too tough: 3.95
  • Would always answer my questions if I had any: 4.36
  • Adequately challenged me: 4.18
  • Did her best to make class interesting: 4.23
  • Grades fairly: 4.375
  • Expects me to do my best: 4.66
  • Cares about her students: 4.47
  • Loves math: 4.76

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What do you like BEST about class with Mrs. Grayson? (some put multiple things in their answers so that’s why it won’t add up to 96)

  • Games/Quizlet Live/Quizizz (18)
  • She’s fun/interesting (8)
  • Friends/classmates to work with/group work (7)
  • Plickers (6)
  • Her help/always being willing to help (6)
  • Warm Ups (6)
  • Extensive notes (6) and talking about new topics
  • Got a lot of practice/review (4)
  • She cares about her students’ growth (4)
  • The topics (3)
  • She’s nice/polite (3)
  • Less homework (2)
  • DetlaMath (2)
  • It was laid back/chill (2)
  • Her talk of marching band
  • It was quiet
  • Her confidence
  • Her giving me a good grade
  • She’s energetic
  • High fives
  • She makes math easy but not at the same time
  • Everything
  • She’s always excited to teach everything
  • She listens
  • April Fool’s Day
  • Nothing/idk (4)

How can Mrs. Grayson improve her teaching for next year?

  • Control the class/be more strict/be meaner/tougher (13)
  • Nothing (12)
  • Explain better/in more detail/more (12)
  • Idk (9)
  • Do more activities/games (7)
  • Slow down/make sure everyone understands before moving on (6)
  • More/better notes/packets (5)
  • More homework (4)
  • DeltaMath shouldn’t count as a grade/No DeltaMath (2)
  • Do tutor days
  • Make the practice more like the tests
  • Do more competitive things
  • Present new topics better
  • Do more mathketball
  • Challenge students more
  • Get on students more about grades
  • Less work
  • Give video tutorials
  • Give more interesting units
  • No warm ups
  • More group activities
  • Be more fun
  • Plickers (?)
  • Teach in a different language
  • Not as much switching seats
  • Give more time to complete assignments
  • More DelaMath instead of MathXL
  • No Advocating Forms
  • Don’t make things sound as fun as you think they are
  • Let loose a little bit
  • Not have a hot room

You find out that your friend has Mrs. Grayson next year. What do you tell him/her? (Note: dropping the class is not an option)

  • Actually pay attention/focus (22)
  • Ask questions/for help if you need it/go in after school (10)
  • It’s fun (8)
  • Try your best (5)
  • She’s a good teacher (5)
  • Be respectful/nice (5)
  • Take notes (4)
  • She’s nice (4)
  • Study (3)
  • Do your Delta Math (3)
  • It’s easy (4)
  • Do your work (3)
  • Do the reviews (2)
  • Turn in your work on time (2)
  • You don’t need to worry because you will get all the help you need (2)
  • She will support you no matter what (2)
  • Take advantage of quiz corrections and retakes (2)
  • Practice (2)
  • Make sure you have someone else you know that can help you
  • ALWAYS bring a jacket
  • Participate
  • She has good intentions
  • Plickers are good
  • Keep trying even though you fail
  • Take it easy because she teaches well
  • Mrs. Grayson is a very chill teacher and is also very understanding, she will help you when you need it and if you need a challenge she will give it to you
  • She’s too nice
  • Actually do your work when its due, they are lucky to have her because Mrs. Grayson lets stuff be late but she still grades stuff and most teachers don’t let you have that chance. she is a very nice and understanding teacher. I am lucky to have her freshman year.
  • Use
  • Keep track of your Friday Free Writes
  • She is chill and doesn’t give a lot of work
  • It’s ok
  • Most of your grade comes from quizzes
  • You will learn a lot of new things and be challenged but will also have fun
  • Do good
  • Be prepared, she’s got tricks up her sleeve, have fun. And don’t underestimate her, she’ll get ya.
  • Check your reflections
  • Be patient
  • Get used to her teaching style
  • She’s the best
  • Beware of April fools day, if Mrs. Grayson does the same thing this year as she did last year and you don’t take French, you may have a hard time understanding her.
  • Watch out for the wasps
  • Ask for another teacher
  • I’m sorry
  • Idk/nothing (4)

What is something Mrs. Grayson should keep doing next year?

  • Games (14)
  • Warm Ups (11)
  • Plickers (6)
  • DeltaMath (6)
  • Teaching/being a teacher/her job (4)
  • Everything (4)
  • Group work (3)
  • Helping (3)
  • Notes (3)
  • Her way of teaching (3)
  • Being fun (2)
  • Giving practice problems (2)
  • Switching seats (2)
  • High fives (2)
  • Teaching good (2)
  • Not giving much homework (2)
  • Seating arrangement
  • Posting the worksheet answers for reference
  • Giving people numbers
  • Reviews
  • Being energetic
  • Chromebook activities
  • Mathketball
  • Cornell Notes
  • Notes packets
  • Google Classroom
  • Quiz retakes
  • The Tin Man
  • Making teaching interesting
  • Work days
  • Nothing
  • Idk (4)

What is something Mrs. Grayson should change for next year? 

  • Nothing (8)
  • Idk (6)
  • Warm Ups (6)
  • Her attitude/be less nice/be more strict (5)
  • Spread out tests/units (5)
  • Seating chart (5)
  • DeltaMath (4)
  • Give more homework (3)
  • Notes (2)
  • Less DeltaMath (2)
  • Less homework (2)
  • The seats/desks (2)
  • Don’t change seats as often (2)
  • More Plickers
  • DeltaMath shouldn’t count as a grade
  • More DeltaMath
  • No more long MathXLs
  • More challenges
  • My grade
  • No more Friday Free Writes
  • Less reviews
  • The way she explains
  • Review games
  • More time explaining
  • Less work
  • Less worksheets
  • Change the way she stimulates the class works
  • Let people pick their own tables
  • The classroom
  • Put color into the room
  • Due dates
  • Give more examples
  • Give more help
  • Make it clearer that struggling students will fail if they don’t pay attention and get help
  • Change seats more often
  • More group work
  • Let us use the board more often
  • More notes
  • Presentation of new topics
  • No Advocating Forms
  • Make Advocating forms extra credit
  • Using the workbooks
  • Pick the groups out to help the students in their working conditions

What is something Mrs. Grayson should stop doing next year?

  • Nothing (12)
  • Idk (9)
  • DeltaMath (7)
  • Tests
  • Reflections after tests (2)
  • Quadratic Formula Song
  • Grade Tracker Sheets
  • Quizlet Live
  • Advocating Forms
  • Popsicle Sticks (2)
  • Google Classroom homework
  • Warm Ups (5)
  • Saying “ask your group”
  • Letting people pick their group
  • Moving seats
  • MathXL (2)
  • Having another teacher in the room
  • Mindset Moments
  • Friday Free Writes (2)
  • Changing seats (4)
  • Plickers
  • Crying at night
  • Being so nice (3)
  • Quizizz
  • Seating
  • Giving time to work in class because some students don’t use the time wisely
  • Groups (2)
  • Lying to us
  • Weekly Summaries (2)
  • Letting non-band members in her class

What is something Mrs. Grayson should change about her classroom?

  • Seating arrangement (14)
  • Nothing (11)
  • Idk (6)
  • More colors (6)
  • Seats/desks (6)
  • More decorations (4)
  • The temperature (2)
  • More posters (3)
  • More math posters that we can use during the units (3)
  • Have it be more comforting/welcoming (3)
  • The layout (2)
  • Better boards
  • The Chromebooks “try to persuade the school board to replace these old cromebooks because these are probably the slowest and least functioning chromebooks in the school.”
  • More plants
  • The bees
  • The location
  • Add more things

What is something that’s memorable from this class?

  • My classmates/friends (21)
  • Games/winning (13)
  • Idk/nothing (6)
  • Mathketball (5)
  • Mrs. Grayson speaking in French for the entire period/April Fools (4)
  • Tin Man (3)
  • When we got pie/Pi Day (3)
  • Calculators/new calculators (3)
  • The jokes/laughs (3)
  • All the help you gave me even though I struggled at first (2)
  • Plickers (2)
  • “2nd + 7 1 2” (2)
  • Warm Ups (2)
  • Math (2)
  • I had fun (2)
  • Being able to pick music
  • How much I felt welcomed and smart
  • Good learning environment
  • Friday Free Writes
  • Probability
  • Colors on the chairs
  • The wasps
  • How she thinks she’s good at basketball
  • When I did good on a test
  • When I brought my grade up
  • Delta Math
  • Being stuck on math problems but having peers and teachers there to help out
  • Math Wall of Shame
  • 1st day of school
  • Getting the math
  • Mrs. Grayson’s funny responses
  • Mrs. Grayson’s Illini thing
  • That I almost failed

What is one word you would use to describe this class?


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What comments do you have about how Mrs. Grayson did homework? (not required)

  • I liked that there wasn’t that much (12)
  • It worked/was good (6)
  • It was easy (4)
  • I’d rather have paper homework (4)
  • Having them online instead of a physical copy tends to make me forget it (3)
  • Keep it the same (3)
  • I didn’t understand it (3)
  • The examples on Delta Math didn’t really help me because it wasn’t always the same way we learned in class (2)
  • Don’t like Delta Math (2)
  • Why is it so hard? (2)
  • Why?
  • I feel like she knows we have more than just this hard class so she tries to not give us hw
  • There’s not enough class time to do the work
  • MathXL doesn’t work at home
  • It helped me get my grade up
  • It was easy for people that play sports
  • I don’t like the 1-off penalty on Delta Math
  • I like that we did Delta Math in class sometimes
  • Don’t do homework
  • I didn’t like that you didn’t give extra credit
  • It was hard to do on my own
  • It helped
  • I didn’t like it
  • I like it better online
  • Do like 3 a week
  • It was fun

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What do you think the benefits to the Daily Warm Ups were?

  • Got us thinking/ready to do math right away (48)
  • Nothing (7)
  • It showed us different strategies (5)
  • We learned more (5)
  • Idk (4)
  • We worked together as a class/group (4)
  • It was fun (3)
  • Not having to think right away/got to relax (2)
  • Helped with math skills (2)
  • It gets your hyped/excited (2)
  • Higher order thinking (2)
  • It helped us remember (2)
  • Gave us a better mindset
  • It was easy
  • It expanded your creativity

What do you think the drawbacks to the Daily Warm Ups were?

  • Nothing/idk (15)
  • Takes time/gets in the way of class time on the work (39)
  • Boring (2)
  • Some people don’t care about them and give bad answers on purpose (3)
  • People did not pay attention/participate (10)
  • Not related to the subject (4)
  • Had to work with the team

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What comments do you have about Mrs. Grayson’s absent work procedure? (not required)

  • It works well (24)
  • You need to explain more (7)
  • It’s not very clear/confusing (3)
  • It’s organized (2)
  • It’s easy to forget about it
  • I liked having my work automatically set up
  • It should be posted on Google Classroom
  • She does the work for you and explains if you ask its great
  • It was fair
  • It was good that she told us when we had something in the absent bin
  • The bin should be more at the front of the class
  • Needs bigger print

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What comments do you have about how Mrs. Grayson changed seats? (not required)

  • It’s good (14)
  • It should happen less often (9)
  • It was nice to meet new people/get to know everyone (8)
  • It should happen more often (4)
  • It should happen every week (3)
  • It should happen every unit (2)
  • We should pick our own seats (2)
  • It’s unique (2)
  • It should be picked so the students will do their best work (2)
  • It should be more relaxed
  • I like how we got to pick at the end of the year
  • It can sometimes get tiring
  • It shouldn’t be random
  • I liked that you wouldn’t be around the same person all year
  • I didn’t like it
  • I didn’t like being with new people
  • It balances out everyone
  • I understand that you need to learn how to work with other people and that those are real life skills that the changing of seats helped with but i didn’t like it. If you have someone in your group who a. Never works, b. is constantly asking for answers, or c. you don’t get a long with it makes the period even longer and more annoying than it had to be, especially since we had so many group interactions.
  • I didn’t like it because some worked well together

What else should Mrs. Grayson have asked about in this survey? (not required)

  • How did students treat other students?
  • Do you like math?
  • How did you like the assistant teacher?
  • What letter grade would you give Mrs. Grayson?
  • Did you get along with your classmates?
  • How did you feel about Delta Math?
  • Did you like the class?
  • How do you think Mrs. Grayson should change the way she gives HW?
  • Did you learn?
  • Did you have fun?
  • What was your least favorite memory?
  • Did you like the Advocating Forms?
  • more about warm ups
  • Was her room hot?

Anything else you want to say to Mrs. Grayson? (not required)

  • You were a pretty great teacher but the way you teach is pretty complicated. I think you should explain more about the problems and make sure that EVERY student knows
  • i enjoyed your class
  • thanks for teaching me this year
  • thanks for a almost great year
  • the survey was very long
  • Have a good summer
  • no,, good luck next year
  • i will miss her over the summer and as a teacher for next year
  • thank you for helping me through my freshmen year
  • Thank you Mrs. Grayson for the help
  • Have a great summer..
  • hi
  • have a nice summer !
  • hope you have a great summer
  • ill miss you
  • Thank you for being a great teacher and having patience with me that a lot of teachers dont
  • Have a good summer.
  • your an amazing teacher and thank you for preparing me for next year
  • Thanks for being a great teacher and always being their for us also have a great summer !!!!
  • have a fun summer
  • your doing great and I liked having you as a teacher
  • have a good summer
  • I’m glad I had the privilege to be your student.
  • you are a great teacher and you are one of my favorites
  • Have a great summer!
  • Have a fun summer
  • Have a good summer! 😛
  • thank you for taking your time with me 🙂
  • thank you for being an amazing teacher

Reflection on Quarter 1 2018

The first 9 weeks of the school year has come and gone, and so has week 1 of my two-week intersession break. I spent my first week off doing lots of personal things – finally unpacking from the honeymoon and wedding, lots of band (including percussion tech stuff for my husband’s band and playing in Alumni Band for University of Illinois’ Homecoming), and end-of-garden tasks. Now, in this second week I am able to focus on being ready for 2nd Quarter at school. But first, I’ll reflect on how 1st Quarter went:

I feel like this year is just going ok so far. It’s the first year that one of the classes I’m teaching is the same as last year, so that should have made things a bit easier. I also was really happy with how the beginning of the year last year went, so I did pretty much the same stuff this year. It was really nice to be able to see my past work from my blog post! Even with what I thought would have made this year start off easier, I feel like I still wasn’t quite ready for the year to start. I had to move to a new room this year but wasn’t really able to do the moving until I got back from my honeymoon, which was only a week before the school year started. Not trying to make excuses, but the timing of everything didn’t really help me get off on the right foot for the beginning of the school year.

Nevertheless, it was a good start, just like last year. I also learned how to use Airdrop to quickly show the class photos and use photos from class, Adobe Spark for collages, and the Photos app to blur faces. These have all made sharing things from class way easier.

The rest of the quarter has felt a lot like same old same old. I feel like the students are learning and haven’t felt like there are complaints or anything, but I just feel like I am not doing enough. I was supposed to be less busy this year (since I’m not doing nearly as much as last year), but I’ve felt like I’m playing catch up all the time. For example, this is the first year I haven’t called every family on my roster to introduce myself. But I’ve been praised still for my Weekly Summaries, Parent Survey, and Unit Newsletters to communicate with families that get emails. I haven’t done enough activities – lots of notes and regular worksheet practice. But I’ve still done some.








Next quarter will be better. I’m ready to try some new things and get back into the swing of things, as well. I’m also ready to get back to blogging, now that I’m not as busy 🙂

Aux neuf prochaine semaines!