Every once in a while after a long day/week/month my co-Crew leader and I decide to relax a bit and bond with our students so they feel like more of a community. Since they have been completing college work almost non-stop for the past few weeks we decided to use this Friday for exactly that. Here you can see tow of my students playing a game I introduced to them 4 years ago: Blokus. They are smiling and enjoying themselves in a way they don't always get to. I'm glad we have days like these.
Today was another Expeditionary Thursday - this time to the Museum of the Moving Image. I don't want to focus on that since - while it was a great trip - it's not that unique to this blog. Instead, here is a photo of what teachers do when we have a "break." My colleagues and I were eating food while one of them was counting the money we got from the students to pay the difference for the field trip (unfortunately it wasn't totally free). You will often see teachers do this in as clandestine a way as possible and still it looks awkward.
The photo for today is more in your imagination than on this blog.
Unfortunately, I had a student who - despite repeated warnings - continued to do little or not work and use her phone during class. I had told her that today was a test to determine if she would be able to focus and complete her work. She used her phone a little at the beginning of class (and had to be told twice to put it away) and then went to the bathroom even though we asked her to stay during review of an important problem that she said she had not understood.
At the end of class I told her I was going to call her mother about this and over the course of 15 minutes she transitioned from pleading, to shouting, to crying quietly. In the end I gave in and I'm not sure that was the right call. Despite her crying, I am not convinced that her actions will change. We agreed that Friday would be the test and she would "do her work" correctly from here on.
I only hope she is able to live up to that expectation.
I did not feel comfortable taking a photo of this situation so you will have to imagine it for yourself.
I have ranted a few times before about electronics use in schools. While I understand the importance of safety in a child's life and how a phone can provide that safety as a connection to their caregivers, it is incredibly frustrating when - as in this picture - students use their phones to take selfies while we are instructing. My co-teacher in this photo is leading a discussion where most students are paying attention, except this one. Unfortunately, she thought it was more important to take this photo than learn the material.
On Monday we had Staff Crew, an example of what makes our school unique. During our hour-long conversation whose purpose is to develop empathy and understanding toward our students, it became clear that we have a variety of needs amongst our staff and yet some things are clear. It is hard to see in this picture, but the different colored stickers represented different things for us. The fact that Gender, Race, and Ethnicity had stickers of all colors is telling of these different needs. We hope that we all can be sensitive to each other's needs and activities like this help. Soon we will turnkey a similar activity to our students to develop empathy amongst them and us.
I am a member of the Committee on Culture and Character at Brooklyn Collaborative. We are a group of grade team leaders, counselors, administrators, and restorative justice coordinators that meet regularly to discuss the needs of character in our building. A lot of that has to do with the work we do in Crew so yesterday we spent an entire day away from class in order to discuss the major aspects of character that we want to support and improve at our school. It was a full day of conversations of identify, culture, the needs of our school and students, and some tasty sandwiches and cupcakes. I really appreciate my administration giving us the time to spend on this stuff so we can make our school even better than it already is.
As always happens after a student's first test, I was sent this request. It's so interesting to me that students always wonder what they can do to their grade after the assessment as taken place. I try to emphasize so frequently that they need to make sure they are prepared because this will impact their grade quite a lot, often to no avail. Well, I'm not changing a students grade after-the-fact - they have to show me some mastery in order for that to happen. I hope this student (and my others) take that seriously.
Today was the big day for my Crew: their first college applications went through. We had designated a special day while the 11th graders were completing the PSAT so it would be just us on one wing of the building, all supporting each other to make sure we get the CUNY application done. We had a number of roadblocks today (including the CUNY server being incredibly slow) but we got through it. While not all students completed their applications, they are in a much better position to understand what they need to do now.
It doesn't happen every day but yesterday I had a flawless example of student collaboration taking place within one team of my Geometry class. One student was asking another some questions and the second student was responding with thoughts, guesses, and just generally engaging in the material. Granted, these students are not at the bottom of the ability level but it still has been a struggle to get them to have mathematical dialogue. This made me really happy to see.
The last thing you want to do after a long day at school is attend a 3 hour workshop. But, since it is required by the Dignity for All Students Act, it is something we educators do willingly. I was expecting something a bit boring and mildly sleepy, and instead got had some wonderful conversations and discussions with colleagues. Yes, there were some videos that were a bit too contrived and a lecture that wasn't so helpful, but the overall view was quite good. I'm glad I went and look forward to the return on Wednesday.
I am a math teacher in the New York Department of Education. I infuse technology and real-world problems into my curriculum in order to prepare my students for the future. I would love for people across the country to recognize we teachers can't do it alone. If you don't believe me, come visit my classroom!