Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Day in the Life – Grinding Through April…

I always forget about April – I think that is the way it is supposed to be in teacher world.   In our area, spring break is always the first week of April, and we then return to weeks of cramming and testing.  The return is probably the hardest of the year, but if we just make it to May, the end of the tunnel comes very quickly.   Every year I forget what a storm this is to march through, and here is one of my days in the midst of it.

6:30am – Finally drag myself out of bed; it is getting harder and harder everyday as we are in the final weeks.  It is an up-do day for the hair, so I can grab 15 extra minutes of sleep….

7:30am: - Leave for school.  My new drive is farther than last semester, but takes less time as I am going opposite of traffic.  It is a perfect blend – extra time to think about the day than I had in previous years, but no traffic to aggravate me from doing soJ

7:45-8:25am:  Arrive at school.  Finish notes for Algebra 2 support to review normal distributions with empirical rule and standard normal distributions with z-scores.  Kiddos have been in and out of their Algebra 2 regular classes this week due to testing, so this is both teach and re-teach.

8:25-10:10am - 1st and 2nd hour is Algebra 2 support, so we work on the normal distributions, but save finding cut-off values for tomorrow.  I can feel they are on full after empirical rule and z-scores.   Somewhat innately, but mostly with experience, a teacher can feel that “on-full” feeling from students; it seems to thicken the air.

10:15 – 11:04am - 3rd period prep.  I update grades with homework and quiz corrections.   Grading policies in this district are new to me, but I love them.  70% weight on Summative assessments and 30% weight on formative assessments/grades such as quizzes and homework.  For quiz grades, students are allowed to make corrections on quizzes for half of their missed points back, so it is truly formative in process.  I am a big fan of analyzing mistakes, so this to me is a great practice that is in place here.

11:10 – 12pm – 4th period Advanced Mathematical Decision Making.  Today the students are taking their 4th out 5 foundational algebra quizzes; today is operations of radicals.  Afterwards, they are allowed time to get caught up on their Life-Project journal reflections.  More on that later.

12:05-1:50pm – 5th and 6th period planning and lunch.  Yep – inordinate amounts of time here for prep and having a decent lunch.  I make copies for the rest of the week, keys to upload to the class website, and finish quiz correction grading and grade updates.

1:55-3:40pm – 7th and 8th period Algebra 2.  We started notes on z-scores, so we continue through with the application of them today and working backwards from a cut-off percent.  We are headed towards a quiz on Friday, so it is a race against time – this is something here that I am having a hard time getting used to.  Great discussions with the content for application though, which saves what can be a pretty dry topic.    7th period is a large class, so a little more of a challenge to stay on task, but we made it!  8th period is small, so we are able to have more in depth conversations within the content delivery.

3:40 -4pm – Drive home – enjoying this time to reflect on the day and think about the rest of the week.  I am definitely thinking group-work review for tomorrow.  Also feeling sad that I am not able to attend MCTM this year in Duluth, MN.   My pre-service work and first year of teaching began with this organization, and it is a great organization with passionate teachers and super-rich professional development.  I try to get back every couple of years, but not going to make it this time.

4:00-5pm – Time to talk to hubs and re-boot before tutoring starts.  Grab a snack and new cup of coffee.     

5:00-7pm -  Two tutoring sessions, both for pre-calculus, but at different levels.  Matrix work for one, and probability distributions for another.  Done early tonight as I am exhausted and need to shut it down for the evening.    

7:00-9pm – Spend time with my family, peruse Twitter and MTBoS, and at 9pm I am in bed.  Time for a good night’s sleep for a change!                                                                                       

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?

The current teaching position I walked into was a tough one.  The students had lost their teacher, and one class had lost a classmate in the same time period.  Attendance was low in the morning support classes and the AMDM course, and students were not used to a consistent routine in the classroom.  Although I did not implement all of my classroom expectations, I did use many.  The students were resistant of course at first, but not for long.  I am glad that I pushed through with the expectations and kept at the challenge of knowing the balance of when to push new ideas and when was enough.  Attendance has improved greatly in support class as well as engagement, and working relationships have been formed with students.   My seniors still worry me with their diminishing work ethic, so I worry about the decision to do a big project at the end of the year.  Still, it is a good one that gives them great life problem-solving skills.

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?
Even though I just went back into a classroom in March, I still am looking forward to summer.  Summer means rest and re-charge.  Summer means the beach and free time to get all those tasks around the house done that you put off and are now stressful.  Summer is a time to spend with friends and family more than you get to do so during the year.  This year has been quite a ride for me at two new and different schools, as well as time off and reflections and realizations I never thought I would have. 

What has been challenging for me lately is that I do not have a permanent job for next year.  I have tried not to stress too much about it, but easier said than done.  There are always openings at the beginning of the year, but knowing now would be much easier.  What I do know is that I do want to teach and be in a classroom somewhere, somehow.

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 my senior AMDM class, I have 2 male students who have enlisted in the Marines and are off to basic training as soon as they graduate.  They are some of the most polite and mature students I have, and they will make excellent soldiers for our country.  Because my son was in the Army reserves, and my brother in-law was in the Air Force for many years, I have been able to share knowledge and interest in their pursuits after high school.  I was also able to use my brother in-law and son’s experiences from the military to better personalize parts of these 2 students Life Projects.  I have enjoyed the conversations we have shared as well as listening to them talk about their thoughts as they head into the military in a time of potential unrest on the globe.

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?

One of my goals at the beginning of the year was to try and spiral homework daily throughout a unit.  At my new school, the pacing of content is super-fast even for on-level courses; there is barely time to cover the work needed let alone spiral.  I have been incredibly uncomfortable with the pacing in Algebra 2, but I have to keep reminding myself that different is not necessarily bad.  Still, I have been teaching long enough to know that this type of pacing does not leave much room for depth of understanding.   We have to all test on the same day, so I am not able to branch out like I would like to, and I am a guest teacher, so delay of testing is not something I can campaign for.

I am now realizing that my next DITL post is the last day of school…   Just one month left -that’s pretty exciting!

Until thenJ

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