I only had to teach a half-day today. District paid professional development allowed me time to go and observe some other teachers at a different school in our district. I really appreciated this opportunity. I was able to go with some other Induction Teachers and our content specialist for the district and then talk about what we observed. My only wish is that we could do something more regular. I’d love if there was enough time in my schedule to teach, plan, and observe every day. But this would mean hiring more teachers so that all of us could have 2 periods off a day rather than just 1 for planning and unfortunately there isn’t enough money put into schools to make this a reality. I get it. I wish it was different.
But I am grateful for the chance to observe when I can.
I felt a little better after observing because I saw a class of juniors who did and said some of the same things that my freshman say and so I didn’t feel like my classes were as out of control as I thought the were. And I also got to watch a math department head teach the same class that I teach (Foundations of Algebra) and that was encouraging as well.
For the part of the day where I was teaching, I had my students practicing relations and functions and then we played Quizlet Live for a review. I was really pleased with first block who have been doing a great job of working together and talking to one another about the math lately. My second block, who have been my problem class lately, had some major problems today, but I also had students saying “Ohh, I get this” and “Oh this is actually really easy”. Which was encouraging in a bright spot.
I’m really struggling with that class right now. I’m going to keep trying different ideas. I will rearrange seating assignments tomorrow. I had to talk to three separate kids in the hallway. Only 1 out of 3 went well.
Pulling back to a broader view, I’m concerned that I’m not giving the students enough activities in class. I need to vary what I do more and decrease the length of the activities. Right now if I don’t count Bellringer and Homework Check, I’m only averaging 2-3 transitions over the length of the block and I think I need to be aiming for 4-5 with roughly 20 minute activities.
I fear this because my classroom management is often weakest at transitions. I’ve been unconsciously limiting them. Also it’s been easier for me to plan only a few activities.
On the flip side, if you’ll allow me to brag, I have been able to get my students to work harder and do more than what is typically expected of the group that I have. Students who have been tracked into Foundations. Yeah they complain. Yeah some of them don’t do their work. But they take notes for me. They work for 30-40 minutes for me. Not every time. Not without some off-task behavior. But they’ve gotten better. I’m proud of them.
I’m also concerned that sometimes I’m not being rigorous enough with them on some of their answers. While talking with a colleague at lunch she showed me some graphing stories assignments that her students did and I realized that I did not follow up my original activity on that topic with questions that really pushed the kids to be specific about their graphs and explicitly explain how the parts of the graph matched their description. Part of that is inexperience on my part and part of it is my own time crunch. I feel so harried with time that sometimes I don’t plan well enough or I’m reluctant to grade problems that are time consuming so I don’t ask too time consuming questions. I’m still trying to find the balance between rigor and not overworking myself. In some ways I think I have been doing great with that and in others I think I suck at it right now.
Another thing that I thought about while observing today is my tendency to be hyper-critical and confident in my own abilities. I try to come across as humble but sometimes that just me preening an image I want to project. If I’m honest my inner voice can be an arrogant butt-hole.
Am I allowed to say butt-hole on a teacher blog?
I’m working on it.
Thanks for reading.