Thursday, October 27, 2016

Out on the Sea….

A Day in the Life:  Wednesday, October 26, 2016

It is the time of year where I feel like I am floating along in an open sea with no land behind me and no land in the horizon.  This long pull to Thanksgiving often feels to me like the longest time of the year.

6:15am:  Up earlier than usual in order to get to school for a parent meeting in the morning.

I am as ready as I am going to be, and I am staggering to pack my lunch and get out the door.  I decide to wrap up my breakfast sandwich and banana and eat it on the road.  I slam it down in stop and go traffic.

I arrive to school, drop my stuff off in my room and then go to my department chair’s room for the meeting.  The meeeting goes well.  Student is making progress through a tough transition to high school, which is great!   Student is in my support math enrichment course twice a week in addition to regular math class with one of my colleagues.  The two together have really helped!

1st period planning.  Time to put my classroom back together from testing rows.  The pair’s  desks work so much better for peer collaboration.  It is tough when one set of classes tests,and then the others sit in rows.  This year I have really gotten used to having students sit together, work together, and talk about math together a majority of the time.  I finish working  through the INB notes for today and then grade the test review assignments turned in from the last two days. 

2nd Period Algebra 1.  We are working through the last segment in Unit 2.  Unit 2 has included Linear equations and inequalities in all different ways in one and two variable, graphing, writing, analyzing, and now in this last portion  as systems of two equations or inequalities.  We have been in this unit for many weeks with many different assessments, but the scaffolding allows a pacing that helps students to process information more thoroughly.  I love that the end of the unit is culminating in combining all graphing and algebraic skills to study the meaning of 2 lines as a system.  The application problems are, I feel like, one of the best tie-ins to life activities around them.  We started systems today by estimating intersection points
when graphing 2 lines.

2nd and 3rd period Accelerated Algebra.  We have started Unit 4 with Polynomials, which will lead to an emphasis focus on Quadratic Functions.  This is one of my favorite units in algebra  to teach!    We started with new vocab and concepts with polynomials, and then started operating on polynomials under addition and subtraction.  I cannot wait for the next couple of days with multiplication and area models.   They are a little wary of the classifying  of 1, 2, and 3 term polynomials and naming under early degrees, but they will tackle it.


Lunch and Accelerated Algebra PLC meeting.   Our department chair was the to collaborate with us on planning a pre-assessment and post-assessment for data collection for state testing.  In our course, we finish the algebra in March, and then our students study 4 units of Geometry for the remainder of the year.  This will give  us more time to prepare our students for the state exam.  We discussed and planned                          strategies for reviewing, and utilization of resources our principal has agreed to fund us with.  She has been generous in purchasing a great online system for EOC review.  We are also about to embark on teaching students factoring for the first time in their  math lives (formally at least).  We know this can be a big undertaking for Algebra 1 students even at an advanced level at the onset, so we discussed possible formative assessment strategies for them along the way to check for understanding.  Probably                          the best PLC meeting for Accel Algebra this year!

1:30 – 2:27pm: 
5th Period Accel Algebra again with polynomials.  This time I heard a total “Oooohhhh” when I worked them into the reason a constant polynomial had degree zero.  Weaning them off of the idea that a number is not always “just a number’.  That lightbulb energized me for the rest of the work day.

2:32 – 3:30pm: 
6th period Algebra 1.  I just acquired this class along with my 5th period Accel Algebra as new classes within the month.  Yes, 2 new classes, 8 weeks into the school year, and hard on the kids and myself.   What I will say is that this stress was the last straw for my health and led to the decision I made to resign after 1st semester.  Anyway, my 6th period class was split from a class of 40 students my colleague had.                    They are a good group of kids, and they have made so many strides with their progress as a smaller group,  so it is a greatway to end each day

One of my Accel Algebra 1 colleagues stopped ask for advice on pacing of content leading up to our quiz on Monday.   Being in a new unit in which students have not seen the content before requires more “mini-PLC” conversations, but I like it.  I had missed having  those mini-meets as my former colleagues and I talked all the time about instruction; to be fair, the layout of classrooms and teachers at my old school was more conducive for this.

Working  at school to tie-up loose ends, send needed emails, and work copy assignments for tomorrow.

4:50-5:20pm:  North Fulton traffic – 4.5 miles, 30 minute drive home; sigh.

5:30pm:  Dinner with my family – I love when the three of us get to have dinner together; it is not often!


Grading tests taken by all students this week both Algebra 1 and Accel Algebra 2.  I am absolutely exhausted, and do not want that to affect the grading process, so I put them away for now.

Finish writing DITL blog for today.   In re-reading this, I realize that my biggest break today was for dinner:  30 minutes with family.  I am worn out with 2 more action packed days ahead of me this week.   I realize quickly that this post will have to go out tomorrow because I need to get to bed and get some rest.  As it is, I am
sleeping copious on the weekends due to my health condition, and I am growing exhausted earlier and earlier each week.

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 move you made that you are proud of?  What is one you are worried about?
I am proud of the fact that I stopped the work horse in myself with grading the tests when I was too exhausted to give them the concentration they need.  I did not get all tests graded by far, but some of them, and I can approach the other when I am fresh enough to do so.
I actually had no concerning decision today.  Every once in a while it is great to have a day where you feel good about the work that was done.   I am going to take it!

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?
My challenge lately is been keeping my stress under control as much as I can to keep my health at a place where I can finish the semester with my students.  My new school has a much bigger workload than my previous school, and it is a load that my health will not handle at this point in my life having Crohn’s disease.  What keeps me positive about my decision to go out of teaching is the opportunity to rest and get well and take time to refresh my teaching spirit.  I would like to think of this time period as a “self-induced sabbatical”.
Once I am well, and when I am well, I have plenty of technology avenues I want to explore, teaching strategies I want to research and plan for, and classrooms and teachers I would like to visit locally and nationally.  This was probably one of the hardest decisions in my teaching career, but I know it is time to take care of myself, which will have its long-term benefits; I just have to be patient with the time it takes to see the benefits.   I hope to achieve remission once again and be rested enough to teach again someday.  I know I will miss being in the classroom terribly.

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.
     I really enjoyed the mini-PLC with my Accel Algebra 1 colleague today.  I really felt like we 
     shared great ideas and worked together well to plan for the next few days leading into the next 
     quiz.  We are both work horses by nature, and our rooms are not close together, so we tend to get 
     caught up in our work a lot and not share as much as we could.  I am glad today was different – he
     is a great teacher, and even though we have a similar amount of teaching experience, I have still 
     learned so much from him this year.

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?

     Unfortunately, because I am not well, my goals have not accelerated as much this month as last. 
     I am still planning and executing instruction and activities, but not as often as I would like. 
     To compromise, I have worked on increasing student talking and questioning more so into 
     instructional delivery, since the time to plan peer activities has given way to other tasks I must 
     prioritize with the time my health affords right now.   I am still going to push to do more in the 
     next month with groups, and I hope I can accomplish a little bit more.

5)  What else happened this month that you want to share?

   One of my former leagues and I are planning  to attend the Southern MTBOS Tweet-Up in 
   Chattanooga, TN  November 5th.  We are both very excited to meet other math peeps from around 
   our region.  It is a day trip only, but should provide a great amount of resources to help with 
   planning activities when time is so limited now for me.  There are a few of us meeting from the 
   southeast region, and I know I will learn a lot  from them.  I am glad that there are teacher work 
   daysthe following Monday and Tuesday that will afford me the chance to still do this and not lose 
   the rest I need.

1 comment:

  1. I know that feeling of reorganizing the room for tests and then shifting it back. I eventually adapted by creating two versions of my tests (sometimes adjusting numbers, sometimes simply the order) though it helped that I'd taught the classes previously. Then I shared the room, so reorganizing happened anyway! You were busy here, and it blows my mind that you were given new classes to teach at this point. Definitely consider your health, and the long term.

    I remember when I first started teaching, there was a time I had all new classes with disruptive students... I didn't even have health issues and it wore me down to the point where I had to cut out after the first reporting period. I wasn't contract yet, so resumed occasional work, but I feel burnout is a real thing; even now I'm taking a year off. Thanks for taking the time to blog.

    FYI, I’ve linked/summarized this particular post in my DITLife roundup; let me know if that’s a problem. (