The impact.

I’m sitting at parent-teacher conferences. The parent of a student who was not in my Algebra 1 class first quarter but is this quarter comes in.

“I’m so excited to meet you! I can’t believe how much his attitude about Algebra has changed since he’s been in your class! He keeps telling me about how many good examples you give, and how you answer all the questions he asks, and that it makes sense. I just can’t believe the change”

I am, at this point, trying not to cry, because complimenting my teaching is the best way to get an overly emotional reaction out of me. But I’m also thinking, “I can’t believe that student says all those things about me!”

Because this student is not one that really stands out to me most days. He sits in the back, he does his work, sometimes answers questions during whole class stuff. Very rarely asks me questions while he’s working or asks for help. Doesn’t appear to me that he loves math class.

But he’s telling his mom about it at home. So what I’m doing is clearly making an impact on him. I just don’t see it day to day.

So just a reminder to all of us that while it may not seem like we’re having that much of an effect on students…they might be going home and telling their parents, or they might realize it after they leave your class. Your impact is felt.

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On Posting Less

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve published a lot less blog posts this year. And a lot less #teach180 tweets. I don’t feel like I owe an explanation, but I feel like an explanation would be helpful for me to reflect on why it’s happening and for you to understand what my whole goal is with this blog.

There are several reasons that factor into why you’ve seen less from me online this school year.

Reason 1: Grad School

I’m in my last 3 semesters of earning my master’s degree in secondary math teaching. The course we are taking this semester, Equity in Mathematics Education, is fascinating and really helpful in improving my teaching. I would love to turn some of my papers for the class into blog posts at some point. However, this class has been a lot of work. Specifically, a lot of really time consuming reading. So on evenings when I may want to sit down and write a quick blog post…I need to read about 5 academic articles instead.

Reason 2: Avoiding Repetition

My most popular posts are the ones that contain downloadable resources, and I definitely know how that feels because those are the ones I love to see from other teachers! Last year, I posted all of my interactive notebook pages for Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 on this blog. This year…I’m reusing most of the same pages so there’s no new resources to post. At some point I will make posts with some of the few pages I change or update for this year, but there’s not a whole lot of new content going on there. My other class this year is Pre-Calculus and it’s the first time my school has ever offered it, so there’s a lot of adjusting on the fly and learning as we go so I don’t feel comfortable sharing those INB pages with the world just yet.

Reason 3: Standards Based Grading

Our math department is piloting standards based grading using Infinite Campus, with the plan to go district wide with this in the next few years. It’s definitely been a situation of having more questions than answers and requiring a lot of communication and collaboration between our math team, and some of that result has been that I’m just not ready to share thoughts on this process yet and some has been less time to write and post things! I’m hoping to have some posts on this experience more in the second half of the school year, as we are starting to kind of find answers to some of our questions and figure out how to do this effectively.

Reason 4: Being More Effective in my Classroom

I realized that the pressure of having a #teach180 post every single day was making me more concerned with how my classroom LOOKED rather than what students were LEARNING. Uh-oh. Not that I was doing bad activities, but just that my motivations were beginning to get a little off. So I’m still “doing” #teach180 this year, and still writing blog posts about activities occasionally, but focusing less on “what can I take a picture of” and more on “how can I communicate this idea most clearly to students”? I’ve found that my pre-calculus students operate really well off of doing practice problems and checking their answers against a key, which is visually pretty uninteresting. My Algebra 2 classes also have been doing this frequently. My Algebra 1 classes this year are really struggling with the learning process – how to move from not understanding something and how to take actions to start understanding it. I’d like to blog about this struggle also, but it’s demanding a lot of my time in the classroom and taking my focus away from taking pictures because every single one of them needs me by their side for every single problem they try to do…I’m really trying to get them to develop more efficacy in their own learning but it has been a SLOW process this year.

 

So, what do I want to be posting about in the coming months?

  • standards based grading implementation issues and thoughts
  • INB pages that I’ve changed
  • maybe some of the pre-calc INB pages that I’m proud of
  • teaching students how to learn?
  • equity in math education
  • teaching writing linear equations – what I’ve tried, what I might try next year

What struggles are you having in your classrooms this year? I always like to be open about these things because I don’t want to make my classroom seem like a glossy, perfect magazine cover when it definitely is not. Plus, I think it all makes us feel better to know we aren’t the only ones struggling with things in our teaching.