Monday, September 26, 2016

A Day in the Life:  9/26/16

6:15am:   Husband woke me out of a dead sleep – I had no idea what planet I was on.  Apparently I had slept through my alarm; great way to start Monday.

7:30am:  Arrived at school already late for morning duty.  Sent an email to my PLC that we would not be meeting at lunch today because 3 of us are going through class changes again after 7 weeks of school.  Yes, that’s right, classes not balanced yet.   We have a big test coming up this Friday, so I instructed the team to work on lesson that can really help to review and reinforce content for the students.

7:45am:  Went to morning hall duty all way across the school and roamed up and down stairs and 2 floors of the 2000 building.  I was checked up on 3 times before I was done at 8:15am.  Ship is tight here folks! 

8:20 -9:20am:    Started my planning period by running off interactive notebook pages for Accelerated Algebra 1.  Even and Odd Functions abstract proof – definitely not a favorite, but planning for visual tie-ins as much as possible.  Scrambled the rest of the hour to start putting together activities and homework for both classes as they are all testing on Friday.   Emailed for a quick meeting with my principal this week to talk to her about going out in December.   Meeting scheduled for Wednesday at 8:30am, and I can say with all honesty I am not looking forward to it at all.

9:30-10:25am:  2nd period Algebra 1 and compound inequalities.  I started by making reference to compound sentences and coordinating conjunctions in language arts and explaining that they would now take the same idea with only 2 coordinating conjunctions to connect inequalities/math sentences.  The classwork/homework I gave on Friday had them graphing compound inequalities from interval notation and graphs, so that part was waiting for them to assign a meaning to.  The lesson went really well, and they worked in pairs with their assignment for the remainder of the period with me there for help.

10:30-11:30am:  As much as 2nd period was a success today, 3rd period was an epic fail, or at least in my book.  3rd period is my “scared to wonder/explore” class, and I have not been able to crack through their shell completely.  Because of that, they retreat right back into the shell when things are tough.  Abstract proof of even and odd functions, even with a graphical lead-in, was not received well at all.  I attempted to tie the symmetry to the geometric transformations they learned last year with y-axis symmetry and 180 rotations.  They just could not make the connections today, which I am fine with, but they are a group that lets anger and discomfort impede their attempt and progress.  They might be the toughest group of accelerated students I have encountered.  I assured them that practice will help, that we will go pattern exploring tomorrow with their findings, and I now am planning on bringing DESMOS to the rescue.

11:35am-12:35pm:  4th period – my wonderers and active questioners!   They did not love the even and odd topic, but they were willing to approach it and bring it down to their own words.  They pushed my thinking and helped me to verbalize the proof of odd functions better.  It is crazy how different one class is to the next.  I somehow have to push 3rd period to be more comfortable with the uncomfortable.

12:40-1:24pm:  Lunch.  My Algebra 1 colleague Ben came up to my room to talk about the next quiz we are writing and to vent about the state of our 6th period.  A little explanation:  due to over-enrollment, we have had to staff another math teacher, which took a while to find.  We found and on-boarded the math teacher, but they have yet to completely dissolve my 6th period support class and split his class of 41 students, which was the plan.  They were supposed to do this at the latest last Friday, and we have not word of when this will happen.  Meanwhile, we are trying to prepare students for a test on Friday with as little disruption as possible and greatly concerned about it.  Hopefully the situation is resolved tomorrow, but it is frustrating to say the least; especially for him.  I am just looking forward to meeting new kiddos!

1:30-2:25pm:  5th period Algebra 1 and the compound inequalities again.  They were equally as receptive to the lesson and applied the preparatory work from Friday to extended inequalities.  They are still a little wary about when the inequality symbol switches direction, but they kept at it at a good pace.  Some of them were not happy with the shared grade on their partner’s quizzes from last week, but they learned that partner’s quiz means helping each other rather than dividing the problems.  I told them they would have another stab at that this week.

2:30-3:30pm:  6th period, which is currently not a 6th period.  Some of my support students still have not been moved to their new elective courses, so the 5 that remain worked on their math homework for today, and I answered questions.  I am hoping that my new class is in place tomorrow, so we can wrap up inequalities and start preparing for Friday’s exam.

3:40pm:  I have a student in my room waiting for his mother, and we will have a parent-teacher conference.  My department chair arrives to inform me that he has no idea when the schedules for the new math classes will be changed and to try and hang in there.  It is hard for me to do this because it is affecting the students.  The overloaded class of 41 needs to be downsized to 2 of us, so they can better receive instruction in a smaller environment and subsequently more support.

4:00pm:  Parent-teacher conference for one of my Algebra 1 students struggling with the transition to high school math.  He is good about keeping up with classwork and homework, but needs to work on seeking extra help and reviewing a little each night to keep the concepts alive rather than waiting until the test.  The parent is asking for extra resources at home too, which is awesome.  The meeting was light-hearted as much as serious; when parents are open to collaborating, it is always better for all involved.

5:00pm:  Just arrived home and started the blog – hard to believe I kept track of everything.  Ate a quick dinner and chatted with my husband.  We have tutoring tonight.

6:00-8:00pm:  Tutoring appointments for AB Calculus and Geometry.   From limits and derivatives to classifying triangles, the math continues into the night!

8:15pm:  I am now finishing up this blog with a dish of smores ice cream – nice, sweet end to a long day.

9:00pm:  I am going to watch the presidential debates – just cannot bring myself to miss it no matter how tired I am.

Reflection Questions
1) Teacher 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 movr you made that 
     you are proud of?  What is one you are worried about?
     Today I am glad that I canceled our PLC meeting for lunch to give us all a chance to breath
     and plan. As an Algebra 1 team, we have come a long way in recent weeks and are rolling along 
     nicely.  We have fallen into roles that reflect our strengths, and we get that chance to breathe, 
     we can start enriching our meetings with more sharing of teaching and strategies.

     I am concerned about the decision I need to talk with my principal with on Wednesday.  I do not
     want to elaborate today much as it was a long and tough decision.  More on this in future blogs.

2)  Every person’s life is full of highs and lows.  Share with us  some of what that is  like as a 
     teacher.  What  are you looking forward to?   What has been a challenge for you lately?
     Today the highs and lows came in different periods back to back.  From the push to explore even
     and odd functions in 3rd period to the willingness to explore and redefine in 4th period.  Two 
     different  classes, same course, two different ball games.  People may assume the same course 
     does not change from period to period, but any teacher knows it does.  This might be a more 
     extreme case than what I am used to, but it has been my challenge lately, and I tend to make 
     challenges my mission.  I am hoping to get my 3rd period class to a point where they will not 
     fight  back tooth and nail at being uncomfortable in the learning process.

3)  We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is.  As teachers we work to build 
      relationships with teachers and students.  Describe a relational moment you had with someone 
      lately.  In the beginning of the school year, my Algebra 1 colleague and I were at odds on the 
      PLC.  Lately, we have taken a step back, started learning how to work with each other, and now
      we are able to lean on each other in the wake of all the stress with our class changes.  They say 
      that relationships that take more work tend to be the most worth it in the end, and that is turning 
      out to be true for us.  We are both experienced teachers from different schools coming in this 
      year.  We both are passionate about teaching and had to find a way to make a big enough arena
      for all of our ideas, and in this time of stress, I think we stick together to draw on our shared 
      passion of teaching and working with kids  to get us through. 

4) Teachers are always working on improving, and are often have specific goals for things to work on
     Throughout the year.  What have you been doing to work on your goal?  How are you doing?

     I pushed on both of my teams to push the next test back a day or two, so I could incorporate some
     Meaningful activities into our review.  Lately I have felt like the passenger on an non-stop over-
     Informative highway with no room to breathe on any one concept.  I know if I feel this way, the 
     kids are probably going crazy.  I am happy to say my teams agreed, and I have some fun and 
     reinforcing things planned for Wednesday and Thursday.

     Per my goal of spiral review, I have really been working that into my Accelerated Algebra 1 class 
     and will hit the mark on every assignment with it this week.  They are working with topics that are
     pretty tough for them at this level, and I know I am over-preparing them, but I want them to be 
     able to sustain for future honors math courses.  Because I have taught and tutored every level and 
     course except AP Statistics, I know the concepts they are headed for.  It will be a delayed 
     gratification for them, but I know they will be glad when they are able to use what they have 
     learned later.
5)  What else happened this month that you want to share?

       I got to have dinner with two of my colleagues from my former high school just last Friday night.
       They are teaching the Algebra 1 support block class that I taught last year and doing the 
       interactive notebooks   They told me that I had totally changed the support class for them by 
       teaching them to do this, and that they loved teaching the course and watching how much the
       students used the notebooks as a resource in class and were such hard and confident workers in 
       math.  They said they had never seen that before.  My heart melted.  I know how much I loved 
       doing the notebooks with that class, so I know the joy they are experiencing, and I am glad that 
       I was able to influence that.

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