Friday, June 8, 2018

DIY + TMC

A little background on me...

When I was in high school I had two groups of friends. I had my friends that were in all of my classes with me- honors classes all the way. I guess they were the "preppies". I also had another group of friends that I knew through my older sister. They were the skaters and the punks. They had siblings who were younger like me. I didn't have very many classes with them, but would see them in between classes and at lunch. Several of these kids or their sibling were in bands. I'm talking hardcore, punk rock or ska bands. Since I shared a room with my sister I knew the music and once I was old enough, my parents finally let me go to shows with my sister.

Now, up to this point, the only concerts I had seen were New Kids on the Block (when I was in 5th grade... Hanging Tough... jealous? Ha!) and Oldies concerts with my mom. Oh, and my dad took the whole family to see Rolling Stones on the Voodoo Lounge Tour. So these were all big productions. Going to a punk rock show in a little club in Atlanta was SO much different. By my junior year I was going to shows very regularly and I loved it. Some were in clubs downtown, some were on college campuses, some were in the garages at houses. The smaller the show, the more exciting it was. These shows were generally all put on by the kids and for the kids. The clubs didn't book the shows, the kids did. Some shows were free, some were $3 or $5, depending on if all the bands were local or not. The bands showed up in their parent's mini-van with the band equipment. The band sold the merch in between their sets. Other kids set up tables of records and demo tapes to sell. Sometimes there were tables set up with info on vegetarianism. It was all DIY and it was awesome! 

Why am I rambling on about all this? Well, a few years ago I came across #MTBoS on Twitter. Then I learned about TMC. Then last year I went to my first TMC in my own state. Not only was it better than I thought it would be, but it made me think of the punk rock shows from high school. All of TMC is put on by teachers for teachers. No silly sponsorships, no sales pitches, no $300 registration fees. Everyone was friendly and they all shared common values. And it was all math focused. It was amazing! How amazing? Well, TMC took place the last 4 days of my summer vacation. I'm going to be honest now. Once I found out I made the wait list cut, I figured I would go for a day. It was only $20, so I thought I would definitely get my $20 worth. So I went on Thursday and I then I quickly realized it was by FAR the best professional development I had ever attended (in 14 years of teaching). Day one was so great, I decided to go back on Friday. I told myself I wanted my weekend to spend relaxing before pre-planning on Monday. Well, Friday came and went and I even ventured out of my comfort zone and went to dinner with some fellow TMCers. As an introvert, this was crazy. It didn't scare me off though because I went back for day three. 

This year I am attending TMC18 and I'm excited and nervous. I'm excited to go to a new city and see people I met last year and see people I've been following on Twitter. I'm also excited because this year I'm staying in the TMC hotel so I'm hoping to get more of the camp experience! I'm nervous though because I'm presenting on Thursday. Eeek! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

And the results are in...

I know there is way more to teaching than big tests. I wish there were no big tests. In 8th grade this year my students had pre- and post-tests both semesters, interims, PSAT, CoGat and EOCs. Many of my students take an extra Biology class before school so they also had a Biology EOC. Way too many tests.

However, I am proud that my students knocked the socks off their Algebra 1 EOC test this year. All of my students (except 1) made an A or a B! The only student that didn't make a B or higher scored a 75. Sadly, he tapped out after Spring Break. He is a smart kid so it is frustrating he didn't try harder. Either way, 98% of my students did amazing and I couldn't be prouder!

Today is the last day of school and I have mixed emotions. Sad to see some of these students go, but happy to turn off the alarm! I love my summers off with my son. Today is the end of 2nd grade for him and he can't wait to be upstairs with the "big kids" next year. This year had it's challenges (see last post) but all in all, it was a good one! I even had perfect attendance! What?! Clearly, I need to take some mental health days next year!

Happy Summer!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Hello summer... I am almost in you!

I teach in Georgia and we start pre-planning the last week in July most years. This means students come back the first week of August. It always seems so early. However, we get out before Memorial Day, so that is quite nice! It is May 11th and there are only 8 full days of school left. I teach 8th grade and our finals are next Thursday and Friday. The last 3 days of school are a wash for us- two days are for awards- yes TWO days, and the last day of school is almost like babysitting 30 kids each period. That being said... I can practically SMELL the chloride of my pool that isn't even open yet. But it will be soon and I can't wait.

If you aren't a teacher, you probably don't understand. Teaching has a beginning and an end and that is one of the many reasons why I love the career I chose. If you have a terrible year (too many preps, weird schedule, or rough/annoying students) you can always start fresh the next year. It is awesome!

This school year was a bit different for me. Last year, my whole 8th grade math department was new. Some were new to the county, some new to the content, all were new to the school. I was the department chair and I constantly had teachers in my room asking for help. I was more than happy to help, but that meant I was taking WAY too much work home. Grading papers and writing lesson plans. Oh, I also had two preps last year (algebra 1 and ACC Algebra 1). So when the time come to turn in our preference form for the 2017-18 school year, I wrote in the comment section that I would like to be a math coach. I really felt like I was doing that already, but without the time chiseled out. I was surprised when my AP said he loved the idea. So this year I taught 3 classes of Accelerated Algebra (all of algebra 1 and the first semester of geometry) and I had one "off" period to be a math coach. Our school has never had one before, so I had flexibility in making it what I wanted it to be.

Everything was great for the first few months of school. Then October happened. A math colleague of mine decided that she was going to retire... in the middle of the school year. The kids were just too much for her this year and her memory wasn't the sharpest anymore. This ended up making the rest of first semester super busy for me. I quickly lost track of how many subs were in her room. Each day I would check in on the sub and ask them how they felt about math. Most were honest and said it wasn't their favorite (insert tears). Then I would run back downstairs to my room and try to embed videos into the lessons for the sub so students wouldn't fall behind. Oh- did I mention this happened at the beginning of the quadratic unit? Worst timing ever. The struggle was real for those students and their parents. And me. After interviewing several candidates, we realized it was going to be impossible to find a replacement in the middle of the year. The best solution? Moving a part-time teacher that had been displaced into that classroom T, W, Th each week and having a retired math teacher be there every Monday and Friday. Was this ideal? Nope. But the kids needs some sort of consistency and this was the answer.

Each week during my coaching period I had to teach the main teacher the math. She had never taught high school level math before! If I didn't have that time with the teacher, it would've been a train wreck! We folded patty paper together and she learned her triangle centers, I refreshed her on geometry proofs and trig. They were definitely productive sessions! 

I just found out my admin team wants to keep me in the same role next year. Hooray! I'm just hoping no one decides to retire before May of 2019!