Wednesday, October 14, 2015

It's not perfect, but it's pretty darn good...

I finally feel like I am getting into the groove of things.

Routines are feeling more natural and I really feel like I am finally owning the school year.  I find myself leaving work (most days) feeling successful, accomplished, and looking forward to what the next day will bring.  This doesn't mean that every day is perfect.  In fact a few weeks ago, I left work feeling dejected because I had not one, but two 6th graders cry during math class.  This also doesn't mean that I am 100% on top of all the things things that teachers must do (parent emails, grading, etc...) but still, I leave work knowing I accomplished a lot, and proud of my hard work.  I mean, after all, if you're a teacher, there is *always* more work to do.  As happy as I am with all my new challenges pushing my thinking and practice, I think I big part of it, is simply I have more time.  My official school day  is 30 minutes less than my old school, and not commuting for an hour on the subway in the AM and PM, is amazing.

Last Friday was amazing!  My math club did their first engineering design project, my 6th graders (and I) did our first Socratic Seminar, and in art, my 6th graders discussed Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans.  Next week my 6th graders will finish their first CMP3 unit and I'll get to go on my first school trip.

Something I think is going well is using discussions in Google Classroom for my students math reflections.  In previous years, I have used Schoology, but the science teacher taught me how to do discussions via my Google Classroom page and it's been working out well.  Keeping up with grading has been hard, but I am able to give my students individual feedback on their math writing and they are able to comment on each other's thinking, so I am proud.

I am also feeling closer to my Advisory.  We did a bag project where they decorated paper bags on the outside with things that represented their outside personality, and then inside they put things that represented who they are on the inside.  I have learned so much about them, and am glad we did it.  I feel like we are slowly getting there.

A couple of things that have come up that I don't have time to go into too much detail now:

  • I want to incorporate social justice into my math curriculum.  I bought this book a few years ago and would love to actually incorporate some stuff.  I might start with freerice.com.
  • I have an iLearn account!  My amazing social studies teacher, who uses iLearn, is going to give us a PD on it next Monday, and I think it might have potential.  I watched my class today for a few minutes, and I was just so inspired, not only by by physical classroom space, but what the 7th graders were working on!  I have so much I can learn from her!
  • I'm gonna be bring student-led conferences to my school!  I sat down with my AP and school social worker yesterday afternoon, and they are on board.  I am going to give a PD for the whole middle school staff on Election day and we are gonna make it happen for our first round of Parent-Teacher Conferences next month.  I am so excited to bring this great practice from my old school to my new one!
  • I was introduced to Genius Hour this weekend and I think it has potential (maybe during study hall?) - I need to look more into it.
  • I also want to look into Makerspace -  one of my 7th graders shared that he attended the NY Maker Faire a few weeks ago, and he was excited about it - another thing I need to look more into.  I also have these resources: MakerCamp, and Maker Space at NYSCI.
  • I still want to teach my kids mindfulness and yoga.
  • I found this NY Times article about the importance of recreational math, which is just beautiful.
So many things coming up with work that I am looking forward to.  I am really grateful that I was mindful enough last spring to know that I needed to push my thinking professionally, and then actually brave enough to make a change.  After all, "sometimes change can be scary, but life without no change at all is terrifying."  

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