Posted in A marathon NOT a sprint, About me, Insanity

It’s not working..Now what?

It’s my first year and teaching chose me  so I am a nervous wreck trying to make sure that I learn everything to successfully teach each student.  I have read every  book that was suggested and assigned in my alternative certification class.  I survived the first six weeks of being a 6th grade math teacher but I still feel like I’m not reaching every learner.  So, I requested a half day from my principal so that I could observe veteran teachers to try and discover any strategies that may help me reach every student.  However, I left my observations with no bright ideas to add to my tool belt.  On top of being a nervous wreck, I was now confused.

I saw each teacher teaching the material per our required schedule set within our administration department meeting.  I saw each teacher using the material that was discussed and suggested as a supplement to the adopted textbook.  I saw some students learning and engaged but many were not as they seem to be the highest and lowest students in the class.  One particular teacher ignored off task behavior and told me that she addressed it by answering questions from those who paid attention to the lesson first and if she didn’t get to the others then it was their fault.  The higher students were done with the independent practice and were content doodling or talking amongst their friends.  The lowest students (whether paying attention or not to the lesson taught) weren’t attempting to complete the assignment on their own and when the teacher did not address their hands up then they checked out.  They talked, doodled, asked to go to the restroom, etc.  There was one student that took her hoodie and folded it within itself to appear to be a bundled new born baby and she laughed with her neighbors as they made cute baby noises.

I understand that one glimpse into a classroom doesn’t represent all day or everyday since each class and student in it is unique.  Therefore, I made sure to debrief with each teacher after the class to make sense to how it functioned, asked questions to clarify observations and of course asked for any candid advice that they teacher would be willing to give.  I learned a great deal that day.  The most important thing that I learned that day was that it was impossible for every teacher to teach the same content using the same book, worksheet/activity, class management and personality.  We are human not a robot – even after presentation practice (the lesson).  This discovery made me really think about downfall of even trying to make everything “aligned” between the 6th grade math teachers.  Every student is different, each mix of students in a class is different, the reception of each set of content is different for each class, learning time is cut short for some classes due to school and federal holidays, etc.  It goes on and on.  I didn’t feel overwhelmed with the difficulties that were presented to me rather I was frustrated with how we were constantly given directives that clearly didn’t consider these things.

Just stay on pace with the scope and sequence and it will all work out beautifully in the end?
Posted in A marathon NOT a sprint, Driving Disruption

Professional Learning Groups

I have always thought of professional learning groups outside of the math department at my school as something that would have to be purchased and paid for annually to utilize.  I figured that I could just use google to get or make some of the same connections or obtain information. The professional learning groups are going to help me to collaborate more and create low stakes islands for myself to accomplish some of my goals that get pushed aside in the daily whirlwind of work tasks.

I previously researched the ISTE conference that is being held this summer (2017) in San Antonio but I had never thought about just joining the free professional learning groups that are mentioned on the site.  I honestly didn’t look into it because I thought that one would have to pay for the conference before they could have access to any of the “goodies” from the website.  I’m glad that this assignment made me take a second look at the website.  I joined the learning groups.  I was also able to download a free e-book about digital connections in the classroom and there is even a section that details the development of digital citizenship.

When I first started teaching I was a consumer but as I gained my own stride I began to contribute.  Once I started to share my ideas with anyone that I could I noticed something very odd and upsetting.  Rejection of ideas that were not originated by the recipient seem to be the culture of the department.  Collaboration was really forced teacher meetings where everyone had to pretend to care about other ideas when the administrator was in the room.  Upon leaving our collaboration meetings the “team” disseminated to plan what they were really going to use for their lessons.  This made me feel as if my ideas were wrong and I would secretly try them in my room but smile and nod that I acclimated with the plan when good assessment results came back.

As I take baby steps to put myself out there again with data that backs up my methods I can’t wait to share everything that I have tried whether it has worked or not.  I also hope to gain insight into things that I hope to try which might assist me with planning or warn me against the possible pitfalls within my vision.  I know that there is another nerdy math teacher (or a few thousand) that think of math as a series of beautiful engaging blocks that anyone can learn to love and connect to.


Current Professional Learning Networks (I’m hooked…more to come 🙂 ):

Friday Institute

The personal learning network for educators

International Society for Technology in Education

Computer Science for ALL teachers

I have also been professionally developing myself by talking to professional peers and watching some great TED talks.  I am currently more a consumer in the online professional groups that I have joined as I receive the email updates and check the websites periodically.  I am hoping to post more of my ideas as I maintain my ePortfolio and share it out to the communities that I have joined with the hopes of contributing to anyone that can use it to help lead positive change in the world of learning.