Rookie Year: Day 53

And I thought I felt tired in September.

I expected this year to be long and too feel tired, but I can definitely tell that I have not paced myself well as a first year teacher. Or maybe I have, I don’t have a baseline to tell. Other educators did tell me that November is difficult. It might also just be that I’m worn out from the election season and the ending of it.

I don’t want to get into that too much here, but I gave my students some time to express their feelings and ask any questions they have. I have Hispanic students who are feeling scared and don’t know how to handle the situation and black students who also feel uncertain about the future. Some of them even asked me if slavery was going to come back. I did my best to comfort and encourage them.

I was trying to teach linear equations for the first time today. I had mixed results. I think I may have tried to do too much at once and had too many ideas that I did not develop well.

Things I was trying to do in one lesson:

A noticing and wondering portion: I wanted them to make observations of different equations and graphs without me mentioning anything of the concept of linear equations. They did okay, but this was the first time I tried “noticing and wondering” and the verbiage confused them. They wanted to know what the right answer was rather than just making observations. Eventually they got this and did a good job at it. I’m still learning how to let them make any observations while also trying to transition to the things that I need them to notice. This is difficult. I don’t want to artificially force the direction of their observations, but I do need to do some gentle leading questions occasionally because there are standards I have to cover in the lesson and I do need to eventually discuss lines versus curves. I need to work on this.

I also wanted to introduce them to the idea of looking at changes in inputs and outputs. I was trying to do too many “discovery” lessons at once and not giving enough time for them to wonder and actually discover. Later on in the day I gave up on this part and started with a small graphing activity them moved to direct instruction with some short notes.

I did feel really good about my notes. They were very short and only three slides actually had material they needed to copy down. The rest were questions or examples that they answered using Go Formative. However I should have done a better job of helping them see how they can turn the questions they answered into examples they are writing down in their notes.

The only things I told them directly were the definition of a linear equation, how to recognize linear equations from tables, graphs, and equations, and what the standard form of a linear equation is. The rest of the time I had them identifying examples and non-examples of linear equations and whether equations were in standard form or not.

Next time I introduce linear equations for the first time I will make sure to give the class enough time to just play around so that if they don’t get where they need to be by the end of the lesson it will be no big deal. I don’t know if I can get them to come up with the idea of linear versus non-linear on their own, but that’s okay. I can still help them discover patterns without telling them directly.

Tomorrow we will be doing review for the test on the previous unit on Friday and then it’s test on Friday so we won’t return to linear equations until Monday but I plan to do some pattern problems ala Fawn Nguyen to get us started and also steal some ideas from Dan Meyer for graphing solutions to equations.

At this point in the year I go back and forth with being ready for the end of semester and enjoying teaching new material. This post was even more all over the place than usual. I stayed up too late last night watching this accursed election.