Wednesday, July 27, 2016


I did not want to write this post...

I have been waiting for this day for the last several months.  Today would be the day that I found out whether or not I got into Math for America.  

I didn't... and that sucks.  But I'll be OK.

I found out yesterday.  It caught me off guard and I wasn't expecting it.  After last week's interview, I felt good.  After all, I had made it that far.  Mentally, I saw myself getting in.  I knew how I would feel, I knew how I would celebrate.  Man, I really wanted it.

So now what?  First, I gave myself permission to feel bad (at least for a little bit).  Yeah, this sucks.  I wanted to get in.  I worked for it.  I would be a better teacher because of it.  So yeah, I'm sad and a little angry.  I would also be lying if I said that a part of myself didn't feel personally hurt because the subject that I have struggled with many times as a student, once again got the best of me - maybe I'm just not good at math.

But then I realized that that just wasn't true.  I have worked my butt off to get where I am today.  I have failed in math before, and come have back from it.  I am just not in Math for America, yet.

I tell my students that everyone is a mathematician.  Everyone can think mathematically.  There is literally no end to where you can go in math.  So what kind of teacher would I be, if I took this failure, and just gave up?  I would be a hypocrite.  And middle schoolers pick that up fast.  So that is just not OK.  If I want my students to be mathematicians, I need to be be a mathematician right there with them.  

So, what does this mean?  I need to dig deeper into my own mathematical practice.  I already do do this to some degree, but it's time to step up my game, and I think this blog can a good vehicle for that.  Originally I started this blog to focus on my teaching (which I will still most definitely do) but I also want to use it to reflect on math that I am learning.  I think I'll start exploring with Khan Academy and Desmos and make sure I connect with other math teachers looking to do math on the MTBoS.  Plus I'll be teaching Algebra 1 next year, so that alone will open me up to new things.  After all, I plan on interviewing for Math for America again next year, and I want what I share in my interview to be good ;)

Not getting into MfA this year simply means that I have more math to learn.  And the more I think about it, this could be really cool for my classroom this year because I'll be getting messy with mathematics, just like I want my students to.  We can explore our ideas, and apply new concepts, and invent hypothesis and argue with each other and question why and prove our reasoning... we will be doing math together.  And it will be great.

I will be a better math teacher because of this.  

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Twitter, MTBoS, Kagan Cooperative Learning, Maker Faire, 5 Summer Secrets to a Stress-Free Fall, and the TED Ed July Challenge

Like most teachers, most of my Sundays from September to June are usually spent lesson planning and preparing for the week ahead.  Luckily it's July, so my next nine Sundays can be spent blissfully having brunch with friends and catching up on my reading instead.

The beautiful thing about summer vacation is that I don't *have* to do any work.  For two glorious months, the immediate pressure of teaching is off.  But again, like most teachers, just because I don't *have* to work, doesn't mean that I don't do any work.  In fact these past few days, I've been exploring the MTBoS and other teacher resources and have been pretty inspired, so I wanted to take a minute a digest what I've found.  I know a fault of mine is I tend to want to do too much at once, and then what inevitably happens is that nothing really gets done well.  So here's what I've been exploring...

Twitter and the MTBoS Directory
I've known about the Math Twitter Blogosphere for a few years now, but this weekend, I officially added myself to the MTBoS Directory.  I'm telling you, making my Twitter account public a few months ago, has been such an eye-opener.  I have gotten exposed to some many other math teachers that I cannot help but be inspired!  I think that this is so important because it's so easy to get "tunnel vision" as a teacher, especially in a small school, so I am grateful that I get to learn from and collaborate with other amazing math teachers all over the world through this form of social media (seriously if you check out the Map page, we are all over the place).

Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures
Through the MTBoS, yesterday I learned about Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures, which are essentially protocols for student collaboration.  Students work together to learn and responsible for the teammate's learning as well as their own.  Now, I already do a lot of group work in my math classes, but I am very interested in learning more about these specific structures.  I found this resource through Google and have reached out to other via Twitter about it and am excited to see how I can incorporate these tools into my math classes next year.  Also thanks to a new blog that I found through MTBoS, I think I found my first day of math activity for this year, Broken Squares.

2016 Maker Faire
I bought a one day ticket to this year's Maker Faire in October at the NY Hall of Science.  I've never been before, but I've heard good things and the science teacher is also going so you know it's going to be awesome.

5 Summer Secrets to a Stress-Free Fall
Yesterday morning I participated in a free webinar hosted by Angela Watson on the 5 Summer Secrets for a Stress-Free Fall, and found it to be inspiring.  My biggest takeaway was that I am the type of person who needs structure.  I am completely guilty of being totally lazy when I don't have a set schedule.  Don't get me wrong, I love free time, but my free time can very easily spiral to hours of time wasted if I don't give myself some sort of structure.  In the beginning of the webinar we were asked "What do you want your life to look like when summer is over?"  My personal vision includes easy-to-maintain organizational systems at home, first quarter lesson plans sketched out, and great memories with people I love.  In order to make my vision a reality, I am going to decide what my priorities are and break down those priorities into tasks and schedule them into my to-do list.

Ted Ed July Challenge
Something that has been fun the past 3 days has been the TED Ed July Challenge - to learn 31 new things this month.  So far I've learned about writing introductions, the behavior of cats and the science behind The Odyssey. The videos are less than 5 minutes long, and who doesn't love learning new things?

Summer Reading
I added another book to my summer reading list in addition to Flip Your Classroom and Mathematical Mindsets,  Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities, just because it sounds like fun.  But here I go again, I am taking on more than I can chew, and what I don't want to happen is to end up not finishing any of them, so I must prioritize and plan out a schedule.  How about I commit to finishing Flip Your Classroom this month, and then picking one of the other two for August?  After all, I also have non-teaching books I would love to read this summer too, on yeah and the books for my Hunter classes.  Ahh, the beauty of summer <3