1) Teachers make a lot of decisions throughout the day. Sometimes we make so many it feels overwhelming. When you think about today, what is a decision/teacher move you made that you are proud of? What is one you are worried wasn’t ideal?
Well, I definitely made a decision this month that wasn't ideal. Recall from my February 18th post that this is the "Big March," the toughest time of the year (despite what Cardone writes about this being a time of "Rejuvenation"). Also, in that same February 18th post, I wrote about some classroom management issues I was having at the time -- first I yelled at an eighth grader for taking an extra pencil, and then both sixth and eighth graders refused to listen to me unless I went to inform another adult that they were misbehaving in class.
As it turned out, The Big March got the best of me -- I didn't survive it. I ended up leaving my classroom before the end of The Big March. Suddenly, my first year as a teacher is at an end.
2) Every person’s life is full of highs and lows. Share with us some of what that is like for a teacher. What are you looking forward to? What has been a challenge for you lately?
This is obviously a low for me. I spent the first week out of the classroom not doing much. I was too upset with myself that I couldn't make my first year a success -- I couldn't survive The Big March. I went back to this blog and read some of my old posts -- especially my "Day in the Life" and reflection posts. They tell the complete story of why I didn't make it my first year. But I didn't write any new posts.
And of course, what I'm looking forward to is returning to the classroom. I still believe that I am a math teacher, and that I can help young students learn math.
3) We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is. As teachers we work to build relationships with our coworkers and students. Describe a relational moment you had with someone recently.
All year long, I'd been looking forward to Pi Day. I couldn't wait to celebrate my first Pi Day as a teacher with my students. But unfortunately, I didn't make it to Pi Day. I realized that I wasn't able to have the Pi Day party -- or was I?
Well, I'd wanted to surprise my students by getting them a pizza on 3/14 at 1:59, as is traditional since pi is 3.14159.... The problem is that, as you can tell by the day count, we're at the start of the third trimester. Therefore, this week is the second Parent Conferences Week, with students dismissed at 1:15 everyday. As much as students like pizza, they wouldn't want to stay 44 minutes after dismissal to get it.
So instead, I served pizza to the latest class that met on Pi Day. With the schedule mixed up to conferences, that class turned out to be sixth grade. (See my November 17th post, another Parent Conferences day, to see how the schedule works on days like this.) I would have preferred seventh grade to get the pizza since that's the grade when they learn about pi, but oh well.
In delivering the pizza, I entered the co-located LAUSD elementary school, but no one from my charter school actually saw me. I laid the pizza in front of my old classroom door and knocked on it, then hurried down the steps. One of the sixth graders opened the door and saw the pizza, but by then I was gone -- I didn't want to stay and become a distraction. After all, the reason I'd left was that the sixth graders were too loud when I was there.
Along with the pizza, I'd left a personalized "Good Luck" card for each student. I'd originally planned on giving each student such a card on the last day of school, but due to the circumstances I decided to hand out the cards right then on Pi Day.
A few days later, I received an email from the dean. He told me that the students were touched by my pizza and "Good Luck" notes, and in fact, the sixth graders had cried for twenty minutes! I agree that this year's Pi Day was bittersweet -- how dearly I wished that I had been in the classroom celebrating Pi Day with the students.
4) Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year. What have you been doing to work toward your goal? How do you feel you are doing?
My goal was to become the ideal classroom manager. By any reasonable measure, I've failed to reach this goal. Moreover, my 2017 New Year's Resolution to fix the problems I had with my management must also be considered broken.
The only way for me to become a better classroom manager is to be in the classroom. Therefore, on St. Patrick's Day (the day before my monthly posting day), I signed up to resume my substitute teaching job at my old district. I've written about my days as a sub during the first two years of this blog's existence. I hope that I'll be able to get at least some of the students to be quiet and listen to me when I return to the classroom.
5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?
Even though I didn't write much on the blog the past two weeks, I did read MTBoS blogs, both my own and other teachers' blogs as well. Here's a post from last year that I reread today:
Here's what the author Olivia writes about her activity:
At the beginning of the week, I assigned a dilation project in geometry. Students were to pick a picture from the internet, draw a grid over top of it, then redraw the picture following the grid on a larger piece of paper. My district does not have an art program, so many of the students are definitely not comfortable when it comes to art. I heard a lot of negative comments that day from students saying they sucked at drawing, it was going to turn out horrible, and many pleas of students asking me to “please not hang them up!” They were especially adamant that they WOULD NOT be putting their names on their pictures. I told them it would be okay and they would turn out great. I said that if I could do it, anyone could do it! Well I gave them 2 full days of class time to work on their posters. I hung up a couple of the posters after the first day, because two of my students finished theirs by working on it in study hall. The next day, my other classes were all asking who drew what. I said, sorry guys this class wanted to remain anonymous. Well, my geometry class came in later in the day. I told them all that people kept asking about who drew what but I did not rat anyone out about who drew what. Then, a very exciting thing happened! Students started saying, “Mine looks so good, I’m definitely putting my name on mine” or “I want everyone to know who drew mine.” They told me that it wasn’t as terrible as they thought it would be and it was actually fun. I loved seeing students so excited and proud of their own work. It always makes my day brighter when students realize just what they can accomplish. Everyone ended up putting their names on their finished products, and I was left as one happy math teacher.
Well, there's nothing stopping us from assigning this activity today. I obtained the pictures simply by performing a Google image search for "cartoon character" -- those just happened to be the ones that came up.
There's one thing about activity -- it works better on a coordinate plane. But note that Lesson 12-2 of the U of Chicago text uses Slope and Distance Formulas just to prove that the mapping from (x, y) to (kx, ky) is a dilation with scale factor k.