Tuesday, August 9, 2016

My Rule List

In today's post, I will continue to describe the classroom preparations for my very first year of teaching, which will start next week.

Table of Contents
1. Blaugust: Another MTBoS Challenge
2. My First Blaugust Prompt
3. Links to Other Blaugust Participants
4. A Science Teacher Blog
5. My Rule List

Blaugust: Another MTBoS Challenge

Yes, you read that right! The members of the Math Twitter Blogosphere, or MTBoS, certainly enjoy their blog challenges! As the name implies, teachers fulfill the Blaugust challenge by blogging as possible during the month of August.

Here's a link to the creator of the Blaugust challenge:


The owner of this blog goes only by the username "druin" -- I don't know her full name. (She does list her gender as "female," so I can safely use feminine pronouns.) Based on the name of the blog, druin is a high school statistics teacher.

This is what druin writes about the challenge:

Rules of Blaugust
The rules are pretty simple... all you need to do is blog!  :)

Seriously though, my goal will be to blog daily in August, but I know that's not always possible, so set your own goal!  Maybe it's a goal to blog every other day or to write at least 10 posts this month... whatever it is, you can do it!  This will be my 4th attempt to blog every day for a month and I have YET to achieve that goal, but it's okay - blogging once a week is better than not blogging at all!

Please take a minute to sign-up so I can link to your site as a #MTBoSBlaugust participant and cheer you on!

So apparently this Blaugust thing has been going on for some time, yet this is the first time that I've heard of it! According to druin, participants should post everyday during August. Well, it's too late for that now -- as usual, I'm late to the party.

Still, I'm going to participate in Blaugust anyway, regardless of the sign-up list. I already had plans to post thrice a week during the school year, so I should reach the "at least 10 posts this month" goal, even though it's too late for me to post everyday this month. (Hey, at least I found about Blaugust faster than MTBoS30 -- May was already half over by the time I read about that challenge!)

Oh, and by the way, I will be using the MTBoS label for all of my Blaugust posts. For MTBoS30 I only labeled some of the posts as MTBoS, but this time I want to make sure that all of my challenge posts are marked.

Prompt #9: Start, Stop, Continue

According to druin, we can write about anything we want in our Blaugust posts. But she provided us with some prompts anyway -- just as for the 2016 Blogger Initiative challenge in January. When I first saw her list, I thought that the first prompt was for August 1st, the second prompt for August 2nd, and so on -- until I saw that there were 50 prompts there, not 31. Nonetheless, I think I'll use Prompt #9 today anyway, since today is August 9th.

Notice that many of these prompts are related to the First Day of School. This is probably why druin set up Blaugust in the first place -- she wants teachers to write about the upcoming school year. (And again, I still must get used to the Early Start Calendar and associate "back to school" with August rather than September!)

By the way, I'm retroactively considering my last post, dated August 5th, to be my first official Blaugust post. Of course, I didn't follow Prompt #5 in that post. Let's change that #5 to #45 instead:

45. What’s the toughest challenge you face as a teacher today?

And my toughest challenge will certainly be to teach science in addition to math, as I explained in that August 5th post.

Now for today's prompt:

9. What would you like to Start doing this school year?  What would you like to Stop doing?  What would you like to Continue doing?

And here are my responses:

Start: The one thing I want to start doing this school year is, well, teaching! This is my very first year as a teacher. As we all know, the first year of teaching can be challenging -- and especially sicne I am working at a small charter middle school where there are no other math teachers! But I believe that I can be successful by reading about how more experienced teachers are running their classes -- and that includes other MTBoS participants.

Also, what I need to do is start demanding respect from my students. As a sub, I often found it difficult to demand respect, but now it's time for me to stop thinking of myself as a sub and start acting like a teacher, since that's what I'm going to be. Another way to think of it is this: if I had a bad day as a sub, the regular teacher could fix it the next day, but if I have a bad day as a regular teacher, there's no one to fix it. So I'm the one who's responsible for the students.

Stop: Here's one thing I want to stop from my days as a sub -- stop letting those who want to disrupt the class take over. One of the most important things to have in the classroom is respect, and I want to make sure that students respect their school and community. I must remind the students that part of his or her job is to respect. To do so, I will reward students who contribute to order and punish those who wish to disrespect.

As a sub, a problem I commonly saw was when students didn't sit in their assigned seats. Sometimes a student would sit in adjacent seat because the owner of that seat was absent and the student didn't want to be isolated from the other students, while at other times the seat-changer was doing so for more malicious reasons. But in either case, a seat-changer isn't contributing to order -- and indeed, if I see a student changing seats, I start wondering what other rules that student will break!

And so I must be strict in following my seating chart to the letter. The students in my class are divided into groups of four, which will be convenient for group activities. Any student who sits in a different seat -- even if it's just one seat away from the correct seat -- and refuses to return to the correct seat at the count of five will be immediately given a five-minute detention. This will be separate from my participation points system.

Also, I must stop tolerating cell phones. Again, in the past I usually had the sub mentality -- I can't do anything about the phones because students will never surrender their phones to a sub. I've seen that I must especially be strict with phones with my sixth graders -- eighth graders (and above) usually have phones out to listen to music (on headphones so as not to disturb others), but less mature sixth graders are more likely to use the phones to disrupt the classroom. Just as with seating changes, cell phone violations will be separate from my point system. (Again, Pokemon Go worries me!)

Continue: Just as I want to stop doing anything that takes away from order in the classroom, I wish to keep doing things that contribute to order. To me, the best way to maintain order is to guarantee that the students have something to do at all times. Again, my best days as a sub occurred when students knew exactly what they were supposed to be doing at every moment of the class and knew how to do it.

I will continue to use some sort of point system as much as possible. As a sub, I often used group points because I didn't know the names of all the students. Now I will be leaning more towards individual participation points as I get the opportunity to learn more about all the kids. Again, I'll be giving out rewards and consequences mainly based on how many points a student gains or loses during the lessons.

Also, of course I will continue helping students. I consider one of my greatest strengths as a teacher is to look at a student's paper and figure out what problems he or she is having. I know what the most common errors are, and so I am able to correct these errors and help the students successfully finish the assignment. I must keep in mind, though, that I'm no longer a sub, but a regular teacher -- so I can't help the students forever, but make sure that they can do the work on their own.

Links to Other Blaugust Participants

Let's take a peek at some of the other teachers who are posting for Blaugust. And who's better to start with than druin, the originator of this challenge?

Now druin's first Blaugust posts definitely adhered to the following prompt:

12. Something I read/learned this summer that intrigued me…

And druin definitely read something this summer -- Ron Ritchhart's Making Things Visible. I'll link to her first post about the book, even though this was back in June. She wrote about one chapter in each post and finished the book for Blaugust:


After finishing Ritchhart's book, druin went on to talk about her classroom. Here's a link to the first post she wrote after completing Ritchhart:


druin writes:

New Bulletin Boards

On Wednesday, I went up to work in my classroom for a bit.  My main goal was to finish up the bulletin boards and I was able to get several done. 

First board isn't quite done, but I did get the fabric hung up.  I team teach a Forensic Science class with the science teacher next door and this summer on Etsy, I found this fabric:

Hey, what's this? Apparently druin, just like me, teaches science in addition to math! The main difference is that this "Forensic Science" class sounds like an elective, not a student's main science class -- and that's there's a separate science teacher. Recall that I am the only person teaching both math and science to my middle schools.

Nonetheless, I find some of her bulletin boards inspiring -- and who knows, maybe I'll consider using some of her ideas in my own classroom!

Oh, and by the way, you may be wondering whether there is a "Science Twitter Blogosphere" similar to the MTBoS, but for science teachers. Apparently, there is no close-knit group of science teacher bloggers -- of course, some science teachers do have blogs, but there's nothing analogous to the MTBoS, Blaugust challenges, etc., for science.

Here are a few more Blaugust participants whose blogs I wish to highlight. First, let's look at the list of participants:


-- Sherrie Nackel:

Unlike the Blogging Initiative, Blaugust doesn't have a requirement where we must specifically look at the three blogs right above our own name in the list. But still, I couldn't help but notice the name of the blog right above mine -- "Middle School Math Rules"!

That's right -- Nackel is a middle school teacher from Wisconsin (most likely 7th grade, based on the URL of her blog)! I've said before that most MTBoS participants are high school teachers, so it's refreshing to see a fellow middle school teacher here.

But unfortunately as of today, Nackel has no Blaugust posts. She did put her name on the list, so I hope she'll be posting soon!

-- Author unknown (Mrs. Gamb?)

The author of this blog doesn't give her full name, but according to her first Blaugust post, she is a 7th and 8th grade math teacher in Texas. In the following post, she writes about classroom materials:


Oh, and notice that so far, my favorite middle school math teacher blogger, Fawn Nguyen, does not appear to be a Blaugust participant. She hasn't posted to her blog at all this month, nor did she add her name to the list. Well, at least I have these two blogs to enjoy.

A Science Teacher Blog

I do want to link to at least one science teacher -- particularly a middle school science teacher, since this is the grade span I'll be teaching. This was a bit difficult since it's hard to find middle school math blogs -- and that's with the existence of MTBoS. Imagine how to find a middle school science teacher without the benefit of an MTBoS for science!

Anyway, I did find the following blog:


The author of this blog appears to be a 6th grade science teacher named Kate. Her most recent posts also describe how to set up a classroom for the first day of school -- and these ideas can apply to any middle school class, not just science.

With this, I'm ready to announce my fifth and final rule for my classroom. This rule is based on what I wrote for Start/Stop/Continue:

My Rule List

I keep saying that I want to write my final rule list and then putting it off. Actually, I'll write the list by using one of the other Blaugust prompts:

23. Using your school mascot, create an acrostic of character traits you wish to instill in your students

Actually, my new school doesn't use a mascot, but we really do have an acrostic of character traits based on the word SCHOLAR:

Speak with Integrity
Commit to Success
Honor yourself and others
Own your own future
Lead the way to Excellence
Aspire to learn from everything
Respect your school and community

And so these are the seven rules that I will be enforcing in the classroom this year. Notice that my previous rules posts in July are all aligned with the seventh -- and perhaps most important -- rule:

1. The Teacher Respects You
2. Respect Your Honesty
3. Respect Yourself and Others
4. Respect Your Class Equipment

I guess that the singer Aretha Franklin said it best -- the underlying idea is respect. The rules are all about getting the students to respect the education process.

I will be posting later again this week -- the final post of the summer. And of course I'll be continuing to participate in the Blaugust challenge. Again, I must emphasize that the MTBoS is the only opportunity I have to communicate with my fellow math and science teachers, because I'm working at a small charter school where I'm the only such teacher. Because of this, I highly appreciate the MTBoS and its members who write such thoughtful posts.


  1. Welcome to Blaugust!! :) First off, I should introduce myself.... I'm Shelli, but back in the dark ages (aka 199x), when I set up most of my social media accounts, it was not recommended to use your real name, so I have been druin ever since. :) I do teach HS statistics as you noticed, but this year I'll also be teaching Pre-calc and team teaching "Forensic Science & Data Analysis". If you are on twitter, there are some active science teachers there. If you are the only math/science teacher, I would highly recommend joining twitter because it provides you an online math/science department at your fingertips. I'm @druinok on there - come say hi! :)

  2. Thanks, Shelli, for giving us Blaugust! I enjoy reading your blog as well -- I'll be more specific in a separate comment on your own blog.

    Oh, and I'll definitely consider joining Twitter. Again, thanks for your suggestion!