I started blogging my second year of teaching and promptly gave it up. There were some changes in personal life and the intense realization that I had no idea what I was doing teaching intervention classes. The intervention classes were much more successful than I could have hoped. I eventually settled into a great routine and all of my students made growth.
Last year was year 3 and it was by far the hardest year I’ve had yet. I transitioned to teaching 9th grade team: Algebra 1 and Honors Geometry. I still had one block of intervention but that ran smoothly after having a full course load the year before to figure out how it should work. Halfway through the year my schedule changed. One of my Algebra 1 classes was collapsed, my intervention class was collapsed and I got two new classes: ELL Algebra 1 and “Algebra Concepts”. Starting over with two new courses for semester two was harder than I thought it would be. On top of all that I had a rough time with my evaluation (I have never felt so devalued as an educator before) had to appeal to the union and (very thankfully) my evaluator changed before the process was over.
Overall the year just seemed off. I never found the joy that I usually get from teaching and left most days too exhausted to think. My classroom did not have the feeling that I wanted it to. I somehow never really got to know my students and didn’t let them get to know me.
This year I’m going back to the things I know work for me and my teaching style and ignoring some of the advice that just doesn’t work for me. I loved working on the 9th grade team and collaborating with other disciplines and sharing info about students. But. The other women on my team had very different teaching styles than I do and much more experience and very well run classrooms. I tried to emulate how they ran their classes and it was a disaster. At the end of the year I decided to go back to what works for me.
This year I am…
- Putting my students back in groups. It worked for my struggling intervention students I can make it work for freshmen.
- Letting go of the idea that I can’t smile until Christmas. I am much happier when I can be myself in my classroom. I am sarcastic. I like to make jokes. I like to relate to my students when they bring up things that are off topic.
- Making my love of math front and center. In previous years I got excited about sharing topics with students. They could feel my enthusiasm and it spread. Last year I made the curriculum a slow painful funeral march. I wasn’t enthusiastic about any of it and I could feel the difference in my students.
- Decorating! I miss having posters on the walls and pops of color everywhere. My theme is rainbow. It’s always rainbow, I can’t help myself. When I rearranged the desks into groups I also relocated my teacher desk. I am hoping to make it more organized this year so that I can actually use it during my planning blocks instead of it becoming a paper landfill. I think if I add some pictures and make it look nice I’ll be less tempted to pile papers on top of it.
- Actively working to improve my practice. I gave up last year. I knew that what I was doing wasn’t working for me or my students and I just kept doing the same things and thinking it would be different. So far I am reading Intentional Talk, Mathematical Mindsets, twitter and other blogs.