While students were out of school during Election Day the staff had professional development focused on allyship, a topic we have been emphasized this year in order to be more inclusive of all students and staff around us. Our administration brought in Tiq Milan, a trans activist who talked to us about what it means to be an ally and how to make sure we act as ones for ourselves and our students. As you can see, there were times of levity but there were also times of struggle and challenge. It was a great experience to have and I'm glad I got to learn more about how LGBTQ folks deal with medical issues and education through help from the Transgender Legal and Education Fund and Callen Lorde. I learned a lot.
My 3rd period Algebra 1 class has been a bit difficult recently so I tried something a bit different in order to engage them. Recognizing that they didn't want to listen to me at all I decided to put the onus on them: they need to get the agenda done in order to get full credit for the day and they can facilitate how they want. Mostly that meant a student leading through my slides with them working in their teams, asking me questions here and there.
This is by no means a perfect system: many students were doing little to no work. But there were actually more students working and listening than when I was leading class. I am currently working on a student guide so that they can do this more explicitly in a way that is helpful to them. We'll see how it goes.
Some classes get rowdy sometimes. Then there are other classes that get rowdy frequently. One of the biggest issues in our school with the second type of classes is physical space in the room: there isn't much! Aside from a few select rooms in the building, fitting 30 kids in one class can be a tight fit. So, on occasion, my co-teacher and I decided to split and use the free rooms that exist (hint: there are precious few of them). In this case, I took half of the students to the art room and fit them on one long boardroom style table. I found this really useful for me and the students because they could work as one big team and learn from each other. While it was sometimes loud there was also a lot of work going on and I could circulate around quickly and efficiently. It was a pretty good lesson!
This past year I've done a pretty good job of making sure I exercise. I go to the gym regularly and recently bought a folding stationary bike. I'm also trying to maintain good eating habits so I've begun using MyFitnessPal's website and App. I bring this up because even though I work many hours extra almost daily, I still try to find the time to exercise and read daily. It definitely helps with my mood, wellbeing, and general outlook on life. Educators out there - take this to heart and give yourself an exercise break!
In the gamut of things that are associated with my job, one of the biggest unfortunate issues is people saying, "but your job ends at 3:00pm!" In reality, the job of a high-quality teacher goes easily hours into the night and takes up weekend. Lesson planning, phone calls, emails, grading, etc take hours to complete.
One highlight of that list, however, is helping students after school. This is a photo of my coworker helping two of our students to understand some Algebra material. These two students have been difficult in our classes but urgently want to improve. Coming after school is helping them in that way so I was happy to see them plugging away happily at 4:15pm (even as our school ends at 3:05pm).
it is quite nice to see and hear students working together to solve a math problem. In this case students actually helped each other to understand a topic related to triangle side measurements. They were using rulers to create triangles with specific side lengths. Right before this photo was taken the student to the right had been showing the student to the left how to use the ruler properly. Unfortunately, I didn't capture the event very well, but you get the idea. It was really great to see!
Yesterday my students were using laptops along with a program called IXL, an online version of computer-assisted instruction. I wrote my senior thesis in college on these types of programs back in 2007 and am excited to see how they have developed. Students are provided with a set of problems based on the topic of their choosing (in this case, determining the slope of a line from a graph) and then as they get answers correct the difficulty level also increases. When they get an answer incorrect, an explanation is shown to help them learn and move on. Our students find this really helpful and once they believe the feedback is useful (that's the biggest challenge) they can use the tool to learn. It went well.
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!