Sunday, January 9, 2022

The 2021-2022 School Year (so far...)

The start of a new year, whether it is a new school year in September, or the January 1st new year, always forces me to reflect on how things in my life have been going, and how I want them to be moving forward.  And since we are officially one week into 2022, this is no exception.  I always feel a little bad for not blogging on here more, but I have also learned to give myself grace.  I am a full time public school teacher, during a pandemic, and mom to a toddler (also during a pandemic, might I add) and some most days/weeks, if I just get by without getting everything done on my to-do list, I have learned to be ok with that, even though it still feels sort of crummy.

I have two unfinished drafts of posts on here from August, right before the school year started up again, and one from last weekend, right as winter break was ending.  One of my personal goals/intentions/mantras for 2022 is to try to be a little bit better today than I was yesterday, so am telling myself that I will write on here and whatever I get to, I will publish, and I will be ok with it, because it will be better than yesterday, when I didn't post at all.

So what's new?  How are things going?

Like, most teachers, this year has been hard.  The period of time after the holidays until about spring break is always a hard time of year in school - it's dark, cold, the newness of the new year is long gone and June is even further away.  Add to that the COVID numbers are only going up lately, and everyday I cannot help but think that I will be the one to bring it home to my unvaccinated two year old, since my husband is still able to work from home.  Hard is putting it lightly.  But there have been some bright spots in teaching this year.  Here are some from our first week back last week...

Monday & Tuesday, my 8th graders worked on the 2022 Year Game, which I always love doing with my students.  Although none of my classes were able to find all 100 numbers, it is always a fun way to come back to school after winter break (and makes an easy great first bulletin board of the new year).

Also this week, the three TI Rovers that I was able to get for free thanks to the TI Technology Rewards Program earlier this year came in.  I was able to show them to my homeroom, and a few of the students were really interested in them.  Unfortunately they didn't come with the hubs, but luckily I was able to use some of my MfA Master Teacher stipend to pay for them.  With these three, plus the one that I already had, I will have four that I can use with students.  I hope to use them in both my 8th grade Algebra 1 classes, as well as my two 7th grade math team classes soon, and I am excited to really get into them.

Lastly, this week, I did something that I always say that I want to do more of, but unfortunately hadn't done this year - make two videos of me going over some regents questions on systems of linear equations for my 8th graders.  Again, trying to stick to my intention of trying to be a little bit better today than I was yesterday, I brought in my iPad to work on Thursday & Friday and recorded one video after school on Thursday going over Thursday's questions, and then again did the same on Friday, going over Friday's on Explain Everything, and even though they might not be perfect, I am proud of myself for pushing myself out of my comfort zone.  

Some of my goals for this upcoming week are to get better about supporting our quarantined students.  I'll be honest, just keeping up with who is just "absent" and who is "remote present" has been a struggle this past week, but I felt good at the end of last week posting my slides for the week, as well as a quick recap fo each day, and what work quarantined students should be turning in, and maintaining office hours for those students, I hope this week I can be a little bit better than last week.

Also, since I haven't posted since August, some of the other changes this school year have been that occasionally I am the site supervisor of my school.  I finally applied to get my initial School Building Leader certificate in 2018, after graduating from the Bank Street Leadership in Math Education program in 2012.  I still don't really see myself leaving the classroom, but with everything going on this year, when my principal asked me if I wanted to take on this role occasionally, I was definitely interested.  So far I have been the site supervisor three times this school year (including the day back from Thanksgiving break, the day of the viral possible school threats on Tik Tok, and the day before winter break. 

Last month I also got accepted into the New York State Master Teacher Program, as part of my Math for America Master Teacher II+ Fellowship, and I am excited to see what this dual citizenship will bring.  

Finally, reading is one of the ways that I practice self care, and last year I read a mind-blowing 82 books.  I enjoy reading for fun, but I also enjoy learning something new from reading, and this year I would like to continue reading more, both for fun, and to grow as a teacher.  I am currently on my third "fun" book of the year, and started my first "teacher" book of the year, "Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning."  I have been thinking about grading this year a lot, and especially after reading this article from Edutopia, "The Case Against Zeros in Grading".  I am only 10% done with it so far, and am looking forward to the rest.  Another thing I have enjoyed doing more of this year, is math problems, just for fun.  My students all participate in the Math Olympiad and Sigma Math Competitions, and doing more of these non-routine problems with my students has been fun.  On an unrelated note, over the winter break, my daughter discovered my graphing calculator, and one of her favorite things to do with it would be to sit on my lap, and tell me to graph something (usually an X or U) in a particular color (I have a rose gold TI 84+ CE) and after I input the equations, I tell her to press "graph" and then she'll say "let's see what happens" and both my mom heart & teacher heart just explode with joy!  She also learned how to play her first board game during the winter break (Candy Land) and oh yeah, she was potty trained, so it was a great week for her all around!  Lastly, something that I have enjoyed lately, is, yes, I have jumped on the Wordle bandwagon, and I don't want to brag or something, but since playing my first game on December 31st, I haven't lost yet.  It's been a fun way to spend a few minutes every day and obviously I want to keep my winning streak going

So that's what I have so far.  I am proud of myself for actually blogging on here and I hope that I can keep it going, moving forward.  I just need to remember that I don't have to be perfect today, I just have to try to be a little bit better than yesterday.

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