Rookie Year: Day 149

Another assembly today.

My school’s assemblies are of a higher quality than what I experienced as a high school student, but they still throw off my teaching schedule. Even with the advanced notice. (And we do get a lot of advanced notice. I am just not a fan of assemblies.)

The assembly featured an alumni panel and they had good things to say.

Just. You know. Assemblies.

The assembly also meant all of my students were crazy today. And I was too tired to really corral them. All of my blocks were chaos until the quiz started and sometimes even after the quiz started I couldn’t get students to settle down. I still have a lot of growth to do in classroom management.

Thanks for reading.


Rookie Year: Day 148


Desmos Marbleslides



That was the lesson plan I came up with in the shower this morning since I was desperately hoping that the baby was going to be born and didn’t have the new lesson ready. Man I am tired.

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Rookie Year: Day 147

We just did a lot of in-class practice on applications of exponential functions today. It is concerning to me how easy it can be to slip into helping students find the right answer to a problem and not always worrying how much they understand, as long as they know how to find the right answer. Especially if they are struggling and I am feeling discouraged. So I really had to fight my own impulse to say “good enough” when helping some of the struggling students today and ask them questions to find out if they really understood or were just parroting a process from the notes.

It would have also helped if I had taught this unit in a different way. I should have had them build up to the equations for exponential growth and decay so that they understood where they came from rather than just giving them in notes as examples. I will try it differently next time.

Thanks for reading.



Rookie Year: Day 146 Or Why Write?

I did a temporary flip-class for the current lesson because our two-day art assembly affected my lesson plans. I gave the students notes ahead of time and asked them to also read the relevant sections of our textbook. Today I had them work on practice problems after I showed them how to use a TI-Inspire to plot points.

I am not really happy with how the flip-class went because I don’t think any of my students did the necessary preparation work. Although I guess I shouldn’t have had too high of expectations since this was the first time I have tried a flip-class. In general I don’t want to do flip-class because I don’t want to take too much of my students’s time outside of class. I already teach blocks all day, so if they aren’t getting what they need in 90 minutes a day then I am planning my classes poorly. But the weird schedule for the assembly along with impending paternity leave and the EOC deadline made me feel a little rushed about taking the time in class.

It didn’t go too terribly because the topic was choosing whether data was linear, exponential, or quadratic and by this point my students should have a decent background in all three of those types of functions. But I think I need to supplement the practice problems that they did individually today with some whole class tasks where we really think about the problems. Also it was clear that I need to do some direct instruction on average rate of change, which only a few students picked up on their own from the text and notes that I gave them.

In somewhat unrelated news, I was discussing with someone on Twitter the purpose of teacher blogs. They made the (pretty decent) point that education blogs should help other teachers become better teachers and that anything else is just a diary. Looking at my blog from this first year, it is very clearly a public diary. But actually I don’t think that is such a bad thing. Yes, I would like to write blog posts that help other teachers become better teachers (if I am capable of that) but having a public “diary” of my experiences has been encouraging and helpful to me. And if I am the only teacher this blog helps, so be it. It has been useful to get feedback and encouragement from other teachers and friends about how I am progressing. I think it is entirely reasonable for there to be more than one purpose for a teaching blog.

I made this point on Twitter and we had a nice discussion about it. I would find it, but I am feeling too tired here at 4:05 to go digging in my timeline so apologies for being rude, but I am not going to bother right now. Maybe I will update this post at a future time.

I am not sure if I mentioned this in a previous post, but I think next year I will go from daily posting to weekly. The daily habit has been helpful but takes up a lot of my time and at this point in the year I am starting to get tired of it. I think also that if I go to weekly I will publish higher quality posts that are edited and well-planned instead of the stream-of-consciousness get-everything-that-happened-that-day-on-the-page style that I normally employ. And hopefully at that point this blog will transition from helping me to helping others. In the mean time I am content to do this.

Thanks for reading my diary.


Rookie Year: Day 145

I am struggling with motivation to come to work not because I am tired so much as that my wife is pregnant and we are expecting the baby to come any day now. I really need to just be prepared to go to work each day instead of expecting the baby but it is difficult.

Anyway. I gave a practice EOC to all of my blocks on Monday. The average across all of the classes was a 39% which was not very encouraging. I tell my students that I value learning over grades, and I absolutely due, but tests are a valid measure of understanding and clearly not as much learning is going on as I would like.



Rookie Year: Day 144

Although I found Spring Break very restful and I came back this week feeling rejuvenated and prepared for the rest of the school year, a week of teaching still takes a lot out of you. I am tired and ready for the weekend. Having a crazy assembly schedule the past two days certainly did not help.

I just gave students time to work on assignments in class today. I didn’t teach anything new, we played Quizlet Live and then I asked them to work while I finished up individual student conferences about grades. Then I gave a re-assessment on a quiz.

I am feeling frustrated with many of my students because the quiz did not go so well today. It was clear that no one studied at all for it. It was also clear that many of them attempted to wait until the last minute to complete the assignments that were due today. That made sense for my 1st block students who had a 3 hour class with me because of the assembly (yes, 3 hours) but it didn’t make sense for the rest of my blocks.

On Monday I am going to give them a practice final exam that will hopefully help them see how much work we have left to do.

Thanks for reading.


Rookie Year: Day 143

The school has a two day Arts Assembly today and tomorrow. My class already attended the assembly so tomorrow we will have an extra large chunk of class and the rest of my classes will be shortened. Sigh.

On the bright side, the Arts Assembly was very, very cool. It is nice to be at a school that takes time to appreciate the art that our students do. And our students are very good because the school is so large. We listened to the orchestra, the symphonic band, the choir, a musical number from this year’s play (Beauty and the Beast), and watched several student made videos. There was a large, and I mean large–the entire multi-purpose room on the second floor–, display of student art work. I was very impressed.

But, this assembly schedule is really messing up my lesson plans. I didn’t realize it was a two day assembly. I’m making the best of it by having individual student conferences while the rest of the class tries practice problems on IXL. My first block class is in such rough shape that really the assembly is a great opportunity as long as they actually take advantage of the time and do their work. I am hoping this conferences give them the motivation they need to do what is necessary to learn.

And as a side note, even as I write that I feel as though I am using passing and grades as motivation rather than learning, but I haven’t done as good of a job as I would like at communicating my passion for doing math for it’s own sake. So far the only language they understand (that I also know how to speak) is passing and grades and graduation and so on. I hope I can get better at just creating a class where students enjoy math. Maybe it isn’t possible in the context that I teach but I will try.

However while I was writing this post I had two students from last semester drop by to say hi and chat for a minute. So even if I have failed to instill a love of mathematics, at least I am forming good relationships with students. I will count that as a win for now.

Thanks for reading.