Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The fear of teaching

Well, it happened.  I didn't want it to happen, but it did.  Here I am with my first post of the school year, and it is November 11th.  I am disappointed in myself because I truly wanted this to be a place where I could reflect on my experiences in the classroom this year on an ongoing basis, and for the first two months of the school year I have failed to do that.  I knew going into this that I would be busy, as teaching is much more than a 40-hour a week profession, but I am disappointed in myself for not making this a priority.  But, I don't think all is lost.  Taking a practice from my weekly meditation class, I am choosing to pause, relax, and open.  I am pausing and acknowledging the fact that I haven't updated like I wanted to, relaxing and forgiving myself so not keeping up, and opening up to the present moment and updating now.

So, how's the school year been going?  Ehhh.  It hasn't been going as well as I had hoped.

My students are definitely less mature than the past few years, which is not the end of the world because I have taught middle school for seven years now, so really nothing surprises me anymore, but I can definitely see that I have been spoiled the last two years.  I also made a choice this year to not use CMP3 as my primary curriculum, and that's probably been my biggest source of frustration, mainly because it's a choice I made out of fear of test scores.  The reality of my situation is that my kids have a test to take at the end of the year, and time to explore math in a meaningful way is not a luxury we have.  And I hate myself because I don't want to be that teacher at the end of the school year feeling like a failure because her kid's test scores were the lowest in the school.  I hate the fact that I am making classroom decisions out of fear.  I used the state curriculum, which is much more teacher-directed for my first unit and I was bored with my classes, so I can only imagine what my students thought.  We're not exploring.  My students aren't coming to the board to teach each other.  We're not coming up with our own notes.  It's just sad and I am unhappy.  Since finishing our first unit, I did make the decision to use CMP3 for our current unit on integers and rational numbers, so it has gotten better, but my classroom culture is still not where I want it to be, and that's disheartening.        

My ICT class is probably my biggest concern, for multiple reasons.  Like I said, student maturity is part of the reason, but also my co-teaching relationship is not functioning at 100% and it's challenging.  I don't want to go into more, out of respect for my colleagues, but it's a major concern of mine and I don't know how to improve the situation and I feel horrible because I know I am not functioning at my best and it's the students who suffer because of it.

That's the general background behind my school year so far.  Throughout the past two months, I did jot down ideas on my Reminders app of things I wanted to blog about on here, so I will share what I wrote...

  • "I am confident that my scholars will grow, but I am terrified that I will try everything and it still won't be enough..."
  • "All I see is algebra ahead of them and I feel a lot of pressure to be this bridge that they need, and it's overwhelming because I don't know if I can do it..."
  • "I want to look back at this post in 10 months and remember this feeling of dread and be proud of my scholars and myself for exceeding expectations and proving myself wrong."
  • "But what it I fall?  Oh, but my darling, what if you fly? - e.h.
  • (After seeing on my Timehop app how excited I was teaching with Connected Math two years ago and deciding to teach my next unit this year with CMP3 again) "I feel like a rebel.  Like I have been told not to do this (by my old self) and I am saying "to hell with it" and it is exhilarating!  I am so excited to plan and teach this way again, at least for this unit, because I know, in my heart that this is what's best."  My response to that is, that yes, in my heart I know that this is how I should be teaching middle school math, but I am being torn because what does the data say?  I am being crippled this year by fear of my students not passing a test.  Where did this come from?!  It's not making me a better teacher.  If anything, this fear is killing my fun, exploratory, exciting teacher self.
  • "A leader has to have a vision both inside the and outside the classroom... big picture."  I have been reflecting a lot about leadership this year and I really do not think that I am meant to be a leader because I cannot think outside my classroom.  This fear of low test scores proves that I am not a leader because if I was, I wouldn't care at all about stupid test scores at the end of the year, and teach the way that I know is best for my students as people.  I am a coward.
  • "Classroom teaching is nobel... and I want to be the best."  This is another reason I don't think I am meant to be a leader.  I (or at least I did) honestly enjoy teaching in my classroom.  I had no desire to leave and manage people as an administrator.  This year I am finding myself more and more not enjoying the classroom (again, the fear) and as a result wanting to leave the classroom.  And I don't like that about myself.  Teaching used to be fun.  Hard work, but fun.  And this year, it's just not.  "I don't want to do all the "others" of teaching anymore... like lesson planning, grading... these are a part of teaching, so maybe I really just don't want to teach anymore?"  How sad is that?
So even though I didn't post on here, I have reflected on the year so far, and it's rough.  Please don't get me wrong, there are still pockets of good, like I hear my students talking and working through exploring a problem together, or when I get excited about something in class and then they get excited about it or vise versa, or when my first instinct after I watch a good math video or read an interesting math article, my first instinct is to share it when them (I emailed this article out to my kids this morning because I learned something new), or when I see them struggling to make sense of something and I can ask them questions and see their face light up when they "get it" all on their own - those moments are still there, but there are variables this year that are holding me back.  

I hate that I am letting fear (both my own and outside pressure) into my classroom.  I have one of the most important jobs in the world, and am letting it take over who I am.  I am a coward.

I want to change.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Adventures in Curriculum Planning

Just read some posts from Teach 4 the Heart about Back to School (yes, my brain is slowly accepting the fact that Summer is over).  In particular I liked The Tiny Mistake That Can Ruin Your Year (and How to Avoid It),  What Not to Do the First Day of School, and Can We Really Believe in All Our Students?  

In my own preparation for back to school, I have been working a lot with planning out my curriculum this past week.  I've been especially interested in breaking up the 39 math standards that I have to teach into about 120 specific leaning targets or "I can" statements for scholars.  I've never done this with the standards before in such detail, and it's been interesting.  My goal with using learning targets this year is to help not only with assessment throughout the year, but to really target every skill that falls into the standards.  It will definitely be a learning experience, but I am optimistic.

I have also been going back and forth between using CMP3 (a more constructivist math curriculum) again vs a more direct teaching approach.  I love the format and approach of CMP3, but time constraints, and not enough specific skill development/ practice was a big concern of mine last year.  Like I've said before, at the end f last school year, I was fully prepared to not use it, but then the scores came back and not only did my kids do OK, but the 8th graders (who I had used CMP3 with as 7th graders) had really great improvements also.  As of right now, here is my vision for my curriculum this year:

  1. Follow the EngageNY 7th grade math scope & sequence
  2. 2 - 3 days a week for CMP3 problems (sometimes as a way to launch thinking, sometimes as a way to deepen thinking...)
  3. 2 - 3 days a week follow a more direct teaching model
  4. Assess, assess, assess standard mastery using the 2013 & 2014 annotated 7th grade math state test questions
  5. Be much more mindful of the performance tasks that I have my scholars do, whether they are from Inside Mathematics, CMP3 extensions, MARS tasks, or the DOE CC Library
The last new thing I have been looking lately has been lesson planning software.  My main reason for moving from Word documents to online for lesson planning is to really try something new that could potentially make planning and collaborating easier.  Specifically I have looked into planbook.com, planbookedu.com, and commoncurriculum.com.  There are pros and cons to all of them, but I think I am going to go with Common Curriculum.  It seems easy and I like the layout.  My big concern is that my school is also using Mastery Connect this school year and that is another new system to learn and I hope I am not biting off more than I can chew.  Plus I really hope that I keep up with the blogging because I do feel like it's been a good way for me to reflect so far, and I would hate for it to get lost in the business of the school year.  I'm staying positive!  After all, teaching is the greatest act of optimism ;)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A (sort of) Lesson on Unit Rates

Ugh, nothing is more depressions when you realize that the school year hasn't even started yet, and you are already behind with your curriculum =/

By the numbers, I have about 130 school days before the State Test.  I have about seven units to teach, which covers about 39 standards.  So it comes to about 18 days per unit or three days per standard.

I really do love teaching math, but unit rates can be very depressing...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Yes, it's sad to slowly leave behind the freedom of Summer, but with each passing day, I am getting more and more (mostly) excited about the upcoming school year.  I had my first of three PDs today.  Today's PD with Teaching Matters was about facilitating teacher teams, which I have done at my school for the past year (PS check out this page to see a pic of me in action on the Teaching Matters website).  Tomorrow's PD will focus on the data action process, which I am hoping will give me some new tools to add to my facilitator tool box.  Speaking of data, I am almost finished reading Driven By Data, which is definitely going on my Most Influential Literature list in my Math Leadership Portfolio.  I also dusted off my copy of The First Six Weeks of School, which is another sign that Summer is ending, but on a more serious note, probably one of the books that had the most influence on my becoming a much better teacher.  I highly recommend.

Lastly today, I found this short video clip on my Facebook feed for Khan Academy (which I have used with my 7th graders in the past) and am pretty sure I found my classroom motto for the upcoming school year... #YouCanLearnAnything

Monday, August 18, 2014

Breaking down standards and next steps

I'm sort of in that back-to-school excitement/denial.  I mean, how can you not be excited about new school supplies and a fresh start?  But at the same time, waking up whenever I want to and no lesson planning is pretty darn sweet.  So I have been dipping my adorably Summer pedicured toes, slowly back into work mode.  What does that mean?  Well, in addition to pinning lots of new stuff to my Education/Work/Teaching/Math Pinterest board, today that meant taking a look at my scope and sequence for the 2014-15 school year.  As a math team, we did some work on our scope and sequences at the end of last school year, which was nice, but as we get closer and closer to d-day (the first day of school) it's time to really get into it and figure stuff out.

The problem with making a long term plan, while working in the DOE, is that things can change in an instant.  For example, I may learn that we will have mandatory period assessments that will be aligned to a very specific sequence, and if I don't follow that sequence, then the data from these assessments would be useless.  Another potential problem could be that I could spend all my time planning for one grade, only to be told, a few days before school starts that I will in fact be teaching a different grade (true story, two years ago, btw).  So I've learned that sometimes planning ahead of time, just ends up being a waste of time, and the older I get, my time is becoming much more valuable.

So where does that leave me?  Well today that meant taking a look at the Common Core State Standards for 7th grade.  After all, no matter what curriculum I use, or what scope and sequence I follow, or what assessments I give, the standards are bottom line.  Here in NY we've been using the CCSS for a few years now.  This will be my third year teaching 7th grade with the new standards, so I know them.  But do I really, know them?  So they were my starting point.  I created this Google Doc, to help organize the 7th grade math standards for myself.  It breaks the five domains into the 43 standards that my scholars must understand by June 2015.  Some of the standards have example questions, which a separated out, and it also identifies the priority/post standards, and test percentage break downs.  For me, it's a start and a way to get reacquainted with what I will be teaching over the next 10 months.

Also today, I learned today that they released 50% of the 2014 math state test questions, which is an increase from 25% in 2013.  This is definitely a step in the right direction because it gives us a better idea of the types of questions, although this is still not going to help when we analyze the item analysis from the test because we won't be able to see the actual test.  Oh well, it's the little things, right?

Finally today, I took another peek at the state test data that was released.  Initially, I was OK with it, but the more I looked at it, the sadder (angrier?) I got.  28% of my students this year were at or above grade level (level 3 or 4 on the state test).  48% were approaching, and 24% were below.  Now, mind you 22% of my students last year were at or above grade level, 48% were approaching, and 30% were below.  So, the numbers went in the right direction, but I am disappointed.  28% is not a lot.  It's progress, but not where I need to be.  My kids deserve better.  Even worse, only 18% of the incoming 7th graders were at or above grade level.  So my work is definitely cut out for me this year.

What does this data all mean?  Well, for me, a big part of it is curriculum.  I've used the Connected Math Program, which is a great inquiry-based math curriculum, for the last two years with my students.  I really like it, but my big concern is that my students don't get a lot of practice in the skills that they need (plus the implementation of CMP3 in the DOE last year was horrible, but that's another post), so at the end of last year I was pretty set to follow a more direct-teaching curriculum this year.  But then the data came in and I don't know.  Not only did my current students improve, but my former 7th graders did well too (as 8th graders).  I know I can't take all the credit for that, but maybe, just maybe, the inquiry-based curriculum helped them become better math learners, at least a little bit?  7th grade and middle school in general, I feel, is a big make-or-break year.  Not to say that if a student does bad, they are doomed, but I feel like you really begin deciding if going further in math is for you.

Wow, this post was way longer than I planned it to be.  I guess I had  a lot to say about going back to work after all?

Friday, August 15, 2014

13 Rules that Expire NCTM article

Just read an awesome NCTM article posted on the Google Community Math with your PJs on and I had to share.  It is truly a must read for any K-12 math teacher, but it is especially important for elementary school math teachers:

I know, especially in my early teaching years, that I've used little (sometimes meaningless) math tricks to get kids to "remember" a procedure or computation rather than a concept.  Did it make me a bad teacher?  No, I don't think so.  I really believed that it was my job to make the material as easy as possible for my students.  Now, not so much.  It's not my job to make the work any easier, it's my job to know how to get my students to where I want them to be.  It's my job to constantly ask them questions what what they are thinking and to challenge their thinking to push them forward so that they can make sense of math on their own.

What I found most interesting (and not that surprising when I think about it) about this article was how many of the "rules" "expire" in 7th grade.  As a 7th grade teacher, I have seen the faces of students so many times, when I am teaching them something and all of a sudden something they thought was "true" turns out to not be as true as they thought.  For example, leaving improper fractions as improper, or using the number line to show how you can subtract a bigger number from a smaller number.  The article also made me aware of some of the things that I have presented to my scholars as "true" and how I can catch myself in the upcoming school year.  I am so grateful for having taught 8th grade and Integrated Algebra in the past because it gives me a frame of mind when I am teaching my 7th graders for where they will need to eventually be.

In addition, someone shared this free resource, Nix the Trix, which also does a good job of describing tricks, rhymes, etc, that are commonly used by teachers that "rob students of conceptual understanding."  Had to share!

2013-14 NY Common Core State Test Results

The DOE released the NY Common Core State Test results for 2013-14 so of course that means I spent my morning making a Google spreadsheet on how my scholars did while watching Rachael Ray this morning.  That combined with reading Driven By Data has definitely made me aware that the new school year is around the corner.

I don't have specifics for individual students yet, but overall I am proud of how my kids did (both my 7th graders from this year and my old 7th graders (last year's 8th graders), and I know I will have my work cut out for me this coming year.  

Since I just got this data today, I am still very much digesting it.  My next steps will be to set it aside for a bit until I can really sit down and dig into it (it is still my summer vacation after all) and note things that I notice and wonder about the data.  Ideally, (although it's unlikely that it will happen) I will get last year's item analysis before the school year starts and a copy of last year's test, so that I can do some really analyzing before the start of the school year, but I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My thoughts on Driven By Data (so far)

So part of my Summer work reading is Driven By Data by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo.  I didn't want to start reading it because that would mean that my Summer is coming to an end, but I started it this week and I am actually enjoying it because it is an easy (and so far practical) read.  It basically goes through the process of designing assessments, analyzing the data, and then creating and implementing an action plan.  It makes sense and is making a lot of the PLC (Professional Learning Community) process that we have been trying to implement in our math team, much clearer.

I am only up to chapter 3 (Action) and I am getting some potentially good ideas for the upcoming school year, but I am running into some things I am finding questionable, such as, this whole process feels very much like teaching to the test, which, in my opinion is not the best way to teach middle school mathematics.   The book also makes the big point of looking at the final assessment, which in my case is the 7th grade Common Core Math Exam, which they do not release copies of, only sample questions (which I have found in the past not to be the most reliable.  They also stress getting data fro the test back right away and that when doing analysis, you should have a copy of the test in front of you, however, whenever we do finally get an item analysis of the prior year's state test (usually in the late Fall), again, we don't have the test in front of us, so how deep of an analysis can we really do?

I don't want to appear totally negative, because I am getting a lot of good ideas from the book, these were just a few things that were bugging me.  I have been keeping my notes on each chapter in an ongoing Google Doc, which I have shared below, in case anyone is interested.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Marbles and Math

Just read an interesting article on the connection between playing with marbles and math:

What I found most interesting was the paragraph: "To me the educational value is, you have to learn speed, spin, accuracy, eye-hand coordination," says Corely. It's very similar to pool, he says.  I spoke with experts who study games, who say marble games help kids hone their math skills because they're hands-on and visual. You can manipulate marbles using the laws of motion, force, geometry and physics and you can group them into sets, which is crucial to understanding math."

This was interesting because, again, it brings up the idea of "playing" and "learning something new" and being "hands on" which are all concepts that I am trying to bring into my math class.  It also mentions pool and it's tie in to mathematics, which I explored in one of my grad classes.  I learned early in my teaching adventure to always have a chess set in class (I think very teacher should, personally), but maybe I'll have to invest in a bag of marbles too this year?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Not thinking about teaching during my vacation...

I just got back from a truly relaxing vacation on Sunday, but of course my mind couldn't help but think of work once or twice, especially since so many of the teachers that I follow on Facebook and twitter are already starting up the school year once again.  Here is just a short list of work/ school/ math/ teaching/ education in general ideas that came up, in no particular order.  Hopefully I will expand on these as the school year moves on:

  • I have always wanted to, but never succeeded in having my students track their own data.  I distinctly remember my 5th/6th grade math teacher making us do it and it is such a powerful tool I should be taking advantage of as a math teacher.  Not only does it give students a concrete idea of where they stand in class, but it is a great way to give them exposure and practice in a real-world, meaningful way.  So of course, I have turned to Pinterest for some ideas and here is what I am looking into: Pre/Post test data tracking, standards bar graphs, and posting class data.
  • Building fluency with fractions, decimals, percents, and rational numbers in general.  Fractions and rational numbers are always something that scholars readily admit to not liking or being good at.  So, while walking around in Portland, Maine this past week, I thought about how could I "sneak in" fractions, decimals, percents, and rational numbers into class everyday so that they become less scary.  Now, I don't know how well this will work out, but it peeked my interest... developing understanding of the "whole" and it's relationship to the "part."  For example, if our school year is made up of 180 days, then 1 of those days can be represented as 1/180 or 0.005 repeating or 0.56%.  If our whole is a week, then after class on Wednesday, we have completed 3/7 or approximately 0.6 or 60% of the week.  Developing that whole-part relationship is essential to deep understanding of fractions, decimals, percents, and rational numbers.
  • I love Instagram.  How can I effectively use it in my 7th grade math classroom?  Maybe creating
    a teacher account and posting student work?  On a similar note, I saw this image of somebody's 9th grade math classroom for #M^2 (Motivational Mondays), #TorTTu (Truth or Trick Tuesdays), #WYGW (Where You Going Wednesdays), #TBT (Throwback Thursdays) and #F^3 *Fun Fact Fridays).  I don't know how I feel about the others but I kinda like throwback Thursdays to review previous topics and fun fact Fridays for interesting math facts.  Hmm...
  • I took a tour of the Ben and Jerry's factory in Waterbury, VT while on vacation last week and I had no idea about how they started (7th grade gym class), their product, economic, and social missions, and what goes on in their factories to make their delicious ice cream.  All I kept thinking of was how rich in math this all was!  Prior to this visit, the only way I had been able to incorporate ice cream into my curriculum is how to determine whether a scoop of ice cream in the shape of a sphere would melt and not overflow into a cylinder cone, when discussing volume of solids.  I definitely want to investigate more into this.  How awesome of a school year would it be if students could learn about the math behind economics and maybe get ice cream!
  • I recently read this article on Khan Academy.  Now I have used it in the past, with Saturday test-prep classes, and as videos or extra practice to support lessons in class.  I think it has a lot of potential, but I don't think I've used it in a way to maximize it's usefulness.  It's definitely something I need to incorporate more, I believe.  Not even as an extra math tool, but as a way to help scholars become independent learners.  There are always going to be times in life when they come across something that they don't understand or get right away.  More often than not, that's where they stop.  In addition to teaching math, I want to get my students persevere through something when it doesn't make sense to them (Math Practice #1).  I want to get them curious to want to learn more.  Not for me.  Not for a grade.  But for themselves and the sheer satisfaction that comes from learning something.  
  • And lastly, I came across some great quotes that I will be looking to put up in my 7th grade math classroom in a couple of weeks: "Believe in yourselves.  Dream.  Try.  Do Good." - Mr. Feeny, Boy Meets World and "No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world." - Robin Williams as John Keating in Dead Poets Society.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

There is never enough time...

One of the biggest problems I have encountered as a math teacher is time with my students and how there is never enough of it.  This is true not only during the school year, but it's something I noticed during the SHSAT prep class that I taught this Summer at my school.

During the school year, I officially have 24 Common Core math standards to teach my 7th graders across five domains (Ratios & Proportional Relationships, The Number System, Expressions & Equations, Geometry, and Statistics & Probability).  That doesn't sound too bad, right?  Within six of the standards, however, there are sub-standards.  When you account for them, the number of standards my 7th graders have to be proficient in by June almost doubles to 43.  That's 43 standards in 40 weeks of school, not including days I don't see my students for various reasons (field trips, half-days, days they are absent...).  That's assuming that they come to me in September already proficient in the K - 6th grade standards, so that I can kick off September with 7th grade material (PS that has yet to happen in seven years of teaching).

In the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, put out by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 2000, it states that "All students should have the opportunity and the support necessary to learn significant mathematics with depth and understanding."  It's hard to go too deep into mathematics, when you have 43 things to teach in less than 40 weeks.

There has been progress (at least in my opinion) with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in New York over the past few years.  Prior the the CC, New York state had 64 math standards that 7th graders had to be proficient in.

Nothing is more frustrating when you are exploring a good math problem with your students, and they are going with it, and exploring it and asking questions, and making connections, and making sense of it for themselves, and the bell rings, and class is over, and the beautiful and sometimes messy mathematics that you were exploring together, is over and because you have eight more standards to teach in this unit, and only 4 days to do it in, or worse, we don't have time to continue this discussion because it's not something that will be covered on the state test.

Like I said, it's frustrating.

And sad.

With each year, I like to think that I've gotten better and planning out my units so that I can do the best I can with the precious time with my students that I have.  I also am proud to say, that I've become much more comfortable going with the flow of our class explorations and being OK (not great, but OK) with not covering every standard in place of good, rich mathematical discussions.  I have to keep in mind that it's not necessarily about mastering all 43 CC math standards, but getting my students to be OK with problem solving, and trying new things, being open to the idea of learning mathematics, even when it doesn't make sense.  If I can do that, then  yeah, it's worth it.

Monday, July 28, 2014

#MTBoS and @TmathC and my ideal Summer reading list

Three posts in one day?  It must be Summer vacation.

Last post for today, I promise (mostly because I still have to plan for my SHSAT math prep classes that I am teaching this week).  But another reason for starting up this blog is to join the numerous math educators that are part of the mathtwitterblogosphere and TwitterMathCamp.  What are the MTBoS and TmathC?  Well from what I understand, it's basically a social media community for math teachers.  I first learned about it from my friend and fellow math teacher, James.  The more I read, the more and more excited I get about my own math blogging adventure!

In addition to joining the MTBoS and following TmathC, I have also decided to include my ideal professional reading book list for this Summer:

  1. Driven by Data by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo
  2. The Power of Teacher Teams by Vivian Troen and Katherine C. Boles
  3. The Math Coach Field Guide by Carolyn Felux and Paula Snowdy
  4. Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess      
  5. Learning From Coaching by Nina Morel
  6. Putting the Practices into Action by Susan O'Connell and John SanGiovanni 
  7. Teaching Problems and the Problems of Teaching by Magdalene Lampert
The first two books are required reading by my school, but the others I have heard about on my own and sound interesting.  Now, practically I know I will not be able to read and take meaning from all of them (and I know that this is a problem I tend to have - I love thinking big picture and end up often times getting in over my head and overwhelmed and not finishing what I start) but my hope is that I break up my reading into manageable chunks and use this blog as a way to hold myself accountable and to help digest the material.  Hopefully I will be able to avoid getting overwhelmed this time around.

Why Do American Stink at Math?

So I just finished reading this article about math teaching in the US and Japan:

It was an excellent read and definitely one of the inspirations for starting this blog.  It talks about how it is generally agreed upon that the mathematics education in this country is sub-par, not because we disagree about what are the best teaching practices, but because of the lack of support for teaching this way.  

Good teaching is truly an art form.  You have to balance content, with classroom management, with student engagement, with assessment.  Good teachers have to know their content well, and this is especially true of math teachers.  I can't speak for teachers of other subject areas, but at their core, good math teachers have to always be math learners as well.  I mean, isn't that the beauty of mathematics, that there is always something more to learn?

Being that it is almost August, I have been loosely thinking about next school year.  We ended last school year with some curriculum planning and, of course, I have been pinning tons of new ideas to my Education/Work/Teaching/Math Pinterest board so I already begun to plant the seeds for the upcoming school year.  Hopefully this blog will also be a positive source of reflection and feedback for me for the upcoming school year.       

Why now?

It may seem kind of weird that I am starting a blog about my experiences teaching (and learning) math in the Summer, but this has been a long time coming.

I am currently going into my eighth year teaching middle school mathematics.  Which is impressive for someone who stated in their freshman year of college (11 years ago) that they were taking their last math class ever.  Two masters degrees in teaching later, here I am.

I've always been a fan of online journals, so it makes sense that I would use this form of social media to reflect, grow, and share my experiences teaching and learning mathematics.  It's just taken me a while to get started.  Last year, when I became the Math Lead Teacher at my public middle school in New York City, I started a blog to share my experiences, but didn't keep up with it.  I'm hoping I will be more faithful with this one, but only time will tell with that.

So why now?

This past school year, I felt like I stagnated.  Yes, I know I've gotten much better as a teacher than I was when I started eight years ago, but this year, my growth slowed way down.  I skimmed by.  I was on auto-pilot.  I got results, but my professional self wasn't challenged.  That doesn't, by any means, mean my school year was easy, by the way.  It's actually kinda funny that when I started teaching, I couldn't wait to be good enough to be on auto-pilot, and now that I am here, I don't feel as satisfied as I thought I would be.

So what's my objective with this blog?  It's simple.  To become a better math teacher.

I know what I do is important.  Teaching is, after all, the greatest act of optimism (Colleen Wilcox).

I want to grow.  I want to learn.  I want to become better at what I do professionally, and hopefully this blog will help me get there.  I hope, by reflecting on and sharing my ups and downs, I can learn from my mistakes.  I hope to open up my classroom doors and get feedback from other educators.  I hope to get over this plateau that I have reached in my profession.  So here I am.  Let's see where this journey takes me...