A Comment on My Own 180 Blog

This was today’s 180 post: 

hamster-wheel-oAnd this was last Wednesday’s:

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Clearly, something is awry.  And I don’t like feeling like this – complaining about everything that’s going wrong, when the simple truth is I feel like a crummy teacher these days.   I seem to be way more reactive than proactive, particularly in my Geometry classes.  I most recently found out that in addition to the must-be-out-of-compliance 44% IEP students and the 35% ELLs, I have 7 students who were in our “PushStart” program last year – a self-contained class for ‘hall-walkers.’  (In an effort to keep students in class, the teachers rotated through the room rather than the students moving throughout the school.)   And of the 34 students on the roster in that class, I have only one student cutting – which is GREAT – and crowded.  So I’m reflecting here tonight – to try and objectively look at what is going well, and what I can realistically improve.

This week I took a big step towards more efficient use of the INBs; I can’t leave supplies around because I share the room with 2 other teachers, but I can PRETEND it’s my classroom for 3 periods a day.  So each morning, I offload baskets of supplies from my trusty cart (now featured in at least 3 posts!) and jumbo bags of notebooks.  Having the notebooks and supplies readily available has immediately promoted maintenance and updating of the INBs, not to mention a veritable explosion of scotch tape art around the room.  As a matter of fact, one student raced over to another who claimed she had ‘an open wound on her finger’ to bandage it with that polyfunctional supply.

However, I found myself entangled in a Notebook Planning Oversight (hereinafter referred to as an NPO), and neglected to leave pages for a lesson we had done last week.   But even that has a positive side, because it was the students who brought this oversight to my attention (“Miss, we need a page for the Famous Theorems!”).  Their desire to keep the notebooks complete is a very good sign.  I think what I need to do is plan the notebook when I refresh/write my unit plan.  For

We spent a lot of time getting used to being geometers in September – exploring vocabulary, folding paper, doing constructions.   I am focusing now on basic content that this crew needs to receive as direct instruction.  Those Famous Theorems – the Pythagorean Theorem and the Triangle Sum Theorem – which are middle school standards, re-visited in Algebra I, needed not only to be re-taught, but the algebraic procedures required for solving problems with them also needed serious reinforcing for many students.  The range of ability in the three sections of this class goes from budding geometry nerd [I am VERY proud of how many angles Raquan found to name in each sketch at 7:45 a.m.!] to a lack of basic arithmetic skills.  Thus, the big ideas of Segment and Angle Addition (including the foundational skills of naming those segments, angles, and rays) struck some students as completely intuitive, and others as foreign concept.  Differentiation and flexible grouping are the next big  priority.  And that I know how to do.  (I also know that it makes class time an aerobic activity for me!) This will require a shift in thinking for the students, and thus will require a very well-thought out plan from me for each class – the grouping, the learning process,  and the practice of new content.

In one of my Algebra 2 classes today, I made the mistake of distributing Thursday’s exam instead of the intended review sheet – a giggle started to ripple through the room as the papers moved around.  My students had the pleasure (and I do think they enjoyed it) of seeing their teacher lose it for a moment as I let slip a few choice words about my goof.  But the reality is that an error by the school copy center resulted in the students not getting hard copy of the review sheet today for their exam on Thursday.  The stigma of last year’s Regents exam results still smarts, despite the fact that I know I am not a number (I guess I just don’t want anyone else to think I am – I am human, after all.)

We are finishing up operations with rational expressions, a fairly dry topic which can be treacherous for a student who struggles with fractions.  I’ve addressed common misconceptions as we went through each topic, had the students work together (Row Games – thank you, Kate!), share and explain their work, and used formative assessment to intervene as frequently as I could.  I’d like to find an alternative way to summatively assess them on this topic, although I am ever in search of a way to make this highly procedural unit more lively and relevant.

So upon reflection, I feel a bit less like that hamster and more like the teacher-y me – not quite Her Mathness, but ready to go back tomorrow and tweak things a little more.

(Just the latest piece of brilliance from geosaurus.tumblr.com)

 

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