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Preparing for the first day of school

Lots of schools are already back in session by now. As of the posting of this entry, my site just had our 4th annual staff retreat.

However, as of the writing and scheduling of this post, I’m still deep in summer mode: Summer school just ended, I watched a friend be a sea urchin in a local production of The Little Mermaid, I hosted my cousin and we walked the Golden Gate bridge and had brunch in Sausalito, I hung out with additional friends and our activities included pilates in the park, lunches, dinners, boba, ice cream, shopping, and baby-sitting a pair of hilarious, bilingual kiddos. I hosted a bridal shower, am in the middle of planning a baby shower as well as excursions to Redding, Santa Cruz which includes a wedding, and visiting family in Hong Kong. A very productive summer 2017.

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Yet, the first day of school is stewing at the back of my mind. I officially received my teaching assignment a few weeks ago and am happy to find that my Math 8 intervention (Boosters) has been moved up in the day to first period, Math 8 EL is back, and I have prep during 6th period – the period when I’m at my lowest energy level. This year, I’ll be thankful to have that period as a break, and my colleagues teaching those tough Math 8 classes at the end of the day will have an empty buddy classroom to send any misbehaviors for a time-out.

This fall, I’m going to experiment with a completely online syllabus. The only paperwork I’m going to send home to my students is a half-sheet for parents to sign and return if they need a hard-copy of my classroom info. If they don’t return it, I’m going to assume that they don’t need one.

When crafting my new class website and online syllabus, my masters work with instructional design came in super handy. Here’s my new site, if you wish to peruse it. I’m open to comments, suggestions, and questions.

The first day of school at my site is anticipated to be a minimum assembly day. Meaning each class period will be around 20 minutes long, with an hour for the assembly near the end of the day. That will be kind of weird, but there’s not much action that can be done on the first day of school anyway. I will probably only get a chance to introduce myself and the class, set expectations, and handout the above mentioned half-sheet.

What are your plans for your first day of school?

Job interview tips for teachers

Three months before graduating from teacher credential school, I started sending out applications for jobs all over the globe. It was 2009 and the recession’s effects were taking a toll on any civil servant job. Teachers were getting pink slipped left and right, even those who had been with their district for 5+ years. It was a rather grim time.

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Photo source: Flickr Creative Commons

My credentialing program took some initiative and encouraged their pre-service teachers to expand their credentials. Some of the people in my program got added credentials in foreign languages, science, P.E. I think I was the only one who got one in math. My credentialing program also spent a good amount of time training us on job application processes, resume writing, and interviewing (if we were ever so lucky to land one). I credit all of this training in landing me my first (and current) teaching job.

Fast forward to today. I’ve been on the interview panel for new teacher hires every year for the past 7 years. I’ve been on principal interview panels as well. I’ve seen some good candidates, some not so good candidates, and even candidates that appeared alright but turned out not such a good fit after all.

All the good candidates had several things in common. I’ll describe a few of these things below:

1. All their paperwork were in order, consistent, and honest.

Oh my goodness. I can’t say how important this part is, even though it’s not necessary to have the ‘perfect’ resume (whatever that is). It is important to have everything done. Cover letter, resume, the application itself, and any other documents/forms that are expressly required to be filled out. Edjoin makes the whole process super easy, since it saves your info and uploads for you.

In addition to the physical/electronic paperwork, the contents of these items should be consistent with each other as well. The reasons for leaving each previous job needs to be clear, concise, and makes sense. “Spouse’s job relocation” and “To be closer to family,” even “Recently graduated and seeking first job placement” are all acceptable reasons for leaving your current/past jobs. “Differences with staff” or “Seeking to teach a different student population” are not reasons that reflect well on the applicant.

One year, I interviewed a person (who we ended up not hiring) because his entire story was a bit, well, weird for lack of a better word. What he said on paper was completely different than what he said in person at the interview. And he had no idea that they were different at all – actually he didn’t believe that his answers were different until we showed him his paperwork. Inconsistent stories just seem rather shady and dishonest.

2. They were interested in the job as more than a job.

Yes, everyone needs a source of income and that usually comes with a job. It’s not needed to say this on an application or in an interview. Teachers don’t go into teaching for the money anyway, even though no one says no to a raise.

But I think there has to a quality of interest in the job beyond going through the motions to obtain a paycheck. You like learning. You have a passion for the subjects you teach. You enjoy the school environment, one of the last places on earth where everyone is working towards a good goal that benefits others more than yourself. These things are fairly clear to read in a normal conversation.

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Translation: Ikea job interview (title). Please have a seat! (speech bubble)
Photo source: Flickr Creative Commons

3. They have realistic ideas of classroom management.

The classroom management question is typically the make-or-break question of the interview. If you want your students to behave properly, but give no details as to go about that, it’s not a good sign. On the flip side, if you have nothing but strict rules and make no mention of building trusting relationships that’s also not great.

Also a must is the ability to be realistic about classroom management. Perfect days are rare and far between. Even the best of the best students may come across bad choices. The attitude of planning for prevention, working through all the low interventions first, an emphasis on communication with the students’ families, seeking help as needed, and starting each day fresh is key. There’s a reason why the classroom management question often is followed by ‘Tell us about a difficult situation with a student and how you dealt with it.’

4. They openly admitted to their weaknesses and areas of growth.

If no student is perfect, then no teacher is perfect. When I interviewed, I openly admitted to my lack of consistency. I had struggled with that all throughout my student teaching days. And because I had struggled with it, I also was able to speak to a lot of the things I learned and the actions I now take to make sure that this weakness will no longer be a weakness with a bit more time and practice.

Another person I interviewed admitted that they were the most impatient person in the world. She said something super insightful that went something like, “I tell my students I’m impatient because I know they can be so much better, do so much more. So I encourage my students to let me know when I’m rushing which will be a hint for me to slow down. Because often times, I move so fast because I’m so excited to teach them more.”

5. They asked questions of the interviewers.

Every single person I’ve interviewed and were successfully hired asked questions. Not the type of questions where the answers can be found on Great Schools. Much more in-depth questions. Here are some ideas:

  • What do you like/dislike about working at your site?
  • What’s a piece of advice that you wish someone had told you when you first started working at this school?
  • Tell me more about the people in your team/department.
  • Describe a typical day-in-the-life of a student at your school.

6. They are prepared.

There’s nothing that speaks louder than a person who has clearly done their homework. They dress well. They come with extra copies of their CVs to hand out. They have a portfolio for you to look at during the interview. Their responses to the interview questions are both practiced and sincere. The more prepared you are, the more relaxed and confident you’ll seem.

Practicing the interview questions were my biggest help. In my credentialing program, we were made to write our teaching philosophy in essay form, and then break it down to match the top ten most commonly asked interview questions for teachers. More than likely, you’ll be asked about the following:

  • Tells more about your education and work history. How would your skills fit into our school?
  • Describe the components to an effective lesson you created or observed. How did you know it was effective?
  • What does effective collaboration look like to you? What would you offer to your collaboration team? What do you need out of your collaboration team?
  • What role does technology play in your lesson plans?
  • What are some strategies you use to reach all students? How do you differentiate lessons in your classroom?
  • Describe your classroom management style. How would you respond to a student who makes an inappropriate comment in class?
  • What do you do to communicate with parents and families?

Then, especially in math, there could very well be a mini-lesson that you would be asked to teach to the interviewers. My mini-lesson involved teaching how to factor a trinomial – something I hadn’t done in years, as I’m originally a multiple subject credential holder. I did it, but I ended up doing it wrong. When I was called back for a second interview to meet the APs, I was asked to tell them about my mini-lesson from the original interview. The conversation went something like this:

AP1: Tell us about the lesson you did the other day for the principal.

Me: Well, it was about factoring a trinomial, and I actually made a mistake.

Principal: Yes, you did. ::smiles broadly::

AP2: Oh, really? What happened?

Me: I had dropped the GCF from my final answer. Just forgot about it completely after factoring it out earlier.

Principal: And if that had happened with a student, what would you have done?

Me: Well, wrong answers are just as important to discuss as the correct ones. It would have been a great teaching moment to talk about double checking your work, and remembering how the mistake happened so that it doesn’t happen again.

This all worked out to my benefit. Which underlines the importance of item #4 above. My principal told me over a year later that every candidate for that position had made a math mistake, but I was the only one who reflected enough to spot mine, let alone talk about it the way I did.

Now of course, I know one of the strongest math teaching strategies known to research is making students analyze and spot the incorrect steps of a worked out math problem. Some call it The Favorite No. It not only pulls in higher order thinking, it also allows for reteaching a concept in a different way AND dispelling some long-held student misconceptions that they might have picked up along the way.

 

Recently reading: Newsela

I first heard of NewsELA from the EL coordinator at my site. It used to be a site that collected and paraphrased English news articles from around the world at the elementary and early middle school reading levels. Now, it’s expanded to other texts and has a classroom function where you can assign articles for students to read, mark up, write about, and respond to.

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The EL social studies teachers very much enjoyed it, and to the best of my knowledge, use NewsELA quite often. EL ELA teachers also use it of course. I’m not sure what the science teachers at my school do with this, but then I’m not sure what the science teachers at my school do at all. But that’s a story for another day.

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Only money…..?

On the math front, sadly, there isn’t much. There’s a money filter for news articles, which is basically all that the news seems to offer in terms of authentic text about math. Even the AVID people don’t really have resources for math text outside of technical writing and reading.

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Some text sets about women in math, but not much else.

I want to like NewsELA, I really do. And I suppose it is a good resource to use. Unfortunately, I can’t do much with it in my middle school math classroom.

What are some of your resources for authentic text?

How to avoid teacher burn out

The struggle is real. Teacher burn out happens to the best of us. Nea Today has mentioned it. NPR has reported it. The Atlantic has talked about it. Twice. Personally, I know a double handful’s worth of teachers who have decided to no longer teach because they are just. Tired. Of. It.

The ‘it’ part is fairly clear, as stated in the linked articles above. I’ve gone into some depth with that topic here, here, and here. Considering everything, I’m constantly amazed that I’ve lasted into the 8th year of teaching myself.

And because it’s my 8th year, and I no longer consider myself a newbie (although I also do not consider myself a veteran yet), I think I can offer a few pieces of advice on how to NOT burn out.

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1. Be aware of who you are.

Knowing who you are will help with using the remainder of the advice on this list. Take the modified Myers-Briggs here. Know what your love language is using this tool. Take this quiz for your enneagram type. Figure out your core values, and this might help. This entire playlist has some goodies that might speak to you.

Currently, I’m an INFJ-A (in the past, I was an INTJ-A), my top two love languages are quality time and receiving gifts, I’m an enneagram type 5. I value family, loyalty, resourcefulness, generosity, and consideration. I grew up as a Southern Baptist, and I currently attend a non-denomination protestant church, but those are just labels I tell people. I am Christian, but I don’t like some of the connotations that the word can bring, and prefer to call myself a Christ follower. Some people would say those two terms are the same, but I find them to be slightly different sometimes…I also digress. Anyway, my faith is also a value I hold close.

2. Take the pressure off.

Let’s face it, current American culture and societal norms expect the school and teachers to do for their students what a generation ago the school and teacher would have expected parents to do. I’m trained and practiced in teaching listening and speaking skills, sharing, conflict mediation, organization, basic hygiene, asking questions skills, stress-management and mindset. I can spot physical and mental abuse, I’m always on the look out for bullying incidents and am expected to act when I see it. I’ve coached boys to be gentlemen and girls to be self-confident, and I’ve fielded questions from middle school kids about relationships and sex, religion and spirituality, even when I’m not really supposed to. Once you’ve built a good relationship with your students, it’s unavoidable that they ask some off the wall questions that no math pedagogy class can ever prepare you for, but life has. It’s also unavoidable – at least for me – to NOT reply in a matter-of-fact, you-are-old-enough-to-hear-this, well-you-ARE-asking-for-life-advice-and-I-AM-your-teacher kind of way.

But.

Never mistake any of the above for feeling like you have to save anyone. I am not anyone’s savior, and I kind of hate that starfish story now with a passion. Which is funny because I used to be so into it way back when I was a newbie.

I’m now more in the camp of ‘I’ll lead a horse to water, but I can’t make it drink.’ What I am here for is to teach students something meaningful and empowering so that they can learn to take care of their academic and social needs themselves.

And if you’re still not convinced, think about it this way:

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Deal with the circus when it’s yours and within your reach. When it’s not, then let it go.

3. Relay with colleagues.

Yes, I meant relay and not rely. I love working with my colleagues because we each take turns being a rock star for each other. Someone all of a sudden needs to be out on maternity leave early because their water broke during class – the rest of the team has it covered with sub plans, xerox copies, making sure there is something on the desk for the sub to do each day. Someone’s grandmother died overseas and need to be out on bereavement leave to support the family – same. I’ve got the Math 8 lessons and materials done. My Accelerated Math 7 counterpart covers making the assessments and doing some forward planning. I’m not by myself, and neither are you. It doesn’t even have to be the people at your site. Whole circles of support can be found with the click of a mouse.

4. Do what you NEED to do.

If you are starving, and it’s lunch time, but there are kids in your room asking for this and that, then kick them out and EAT YOUR LUNCH. If you just need your prep period to be by yourself to decompress, then LOCK THAT DOOR AND TURN OFF THE LIGHTS. When you finally get home after a 16 hour day at school, and there’s a pile of laundry on the floor and it bothers you to no end, then suck it up and GET IT DONE.

There are days when I get home after work and all I can manage to do is get dinner together, take a shower, and plop in my bed to be dead to the world until the next morning. On those days, that is what I need. Are there friends going out for a birthday celebration that night? Maybe. Do I go? No. Because that is not what I need. I need to sleep. Even if I went, I wouldn’t be very good company at all and I’ll just ruin the celebratory mood.

And that kind of choice is tough, it really is. Especially when I also need social time. I just don’t need it as much as I need to eat properly, sleep properly, and take care of myself properly. Which is where knowing yourself is important. There are people who need to have a conversation with someone other than a 12-year-old. Go and get what you need. Take care of yourself.

5. Do what you WANT to do.

That sheet mask? Go for it! That week in Cabo over Thanksgiving break? Book that flight and hotel! Splurge on a round of drinks for your friends to make up for all the times you bailed on them (see #4 above)? Cheers, mate!

I’m not talking about blowing your entire pay check on frivolous things or being irresponsible about the resources you are blessed with. I’m talking about letting yourself revel in the little luxuries when the time to afford one arrives.

In general, I’m a big self-denier. I’ll resist getting the more expensive meal, or the nicer (more expensive) home item. I’ll go for the cheapest option, or go without it completely. But I’ve learned to not feel guilty for getting the taller boba cup. I know not everyone has that kind of financial security, let alone independence, and every situation is different. At the same time, I work really hard not just for my pay check, but also for its investment and growth. Being responsible and enjoying some creature comforts are not mutually exclusive.

You’ll also notice that my ‘luxuries’ may not actually be considered luxuries. To me, the cost of an item doesn’t make it a luxury – to me, it’s a bit more than the item itself. It’s the feeling of allowing myself to say yes to something that my hyper-frugal side would say no to. In general, I go for experiences (and food) rather than things. Even better if I can share it with my family or a friend.

6. Practice gratitude.

I’m also very thankful for all the things I’ve been provided. Meaningful work! A home to call my own! Multiple homes around the world in which I confidently know I’ll be welcome! A car that works well with passenger space! Family whom I’m close to! Health and all my limbs working properly! Friends! Colleagues I love! Challenges to conquer! The kookiest, cutest pet chinchilla ever! But for the grace of God, my life would be very different indeed.

So I remind myself to not take anything for granted. And when I do run across a struggle or something annoying, I try to turn it into something positive. A helpful exercise I’ve used is to make a list of the things that annoy/depress/make me feel sorry for myself generally, and turn them around with a positive line, like so. This week:

  • I’ve hated the heat and relentless beating of the sun…but have been so thankful to enjoy powerful a/c and cool summer nights
  • Been a bit peopled-out with both social and work things non-stop…but that means I get to celebrate and enjoy good friends and hold trusted responsibilities with decision-making power
  • My place is a mess…but that means I’ve been doing the things I enjoy and having people over to spend time with
  • I’ve felt like I’ve constantly had to do dishes today…but that means I have more than enough to eat, and family and friends to share a meal with

Just the act of writing that has lifted my mood, which in turn helps with my energy level TONS.

7. Say no in order to say yes.

This video explains the first part of this piece of advice. It’s meant for entrepreneurs, but it’s still meaningful for other professions as a lesson on saying no. This section is also slightly different from #4 above, where it’s more of a case of prioritizing.

This no is a HELLZ NO. As in “I don’t wanna because I just don’t.” I don’t want to be on that committee that takes up 5 hours of unpaid work each week. I don’t want to be cheer coach where I’m traveling to each and every sporting event all year with the team. I’m gonna have to say no to leading whoseits to do whatsit wheneversit.

And as teachers, I know it’s hard to say no. But think of it this way: saying no would free up so much time, energy, brain space for the things you really want to say yes to. When my hands are completely full, I don’t have room for anything else, especially #4-6 above. Sometimes, it’s good to let something go, even your deepest, longest held hopes and dreams. Because something new and wonderful and unexpected is just around the corner waiting for you. Or because it’s time to simply rest and take a break from the world. Or because letting go will allow you to do a set of core things really, really well.

Here are some sentence frames to help you say no:

Thanks for the invite to the _________ committee. It sounds so interesting and has so much value for our site. However, I’m already doing ____________ for another committee at this time. I might be interested at a later time, but right now, I’m going to say no.

Or

Coaching would be a great new thing to try for me. However, I’ve decided to focus on my classroom and teaching practice this year. I’m afraid doing both would not allow me to concentrate on either in the way each deserves. Perhaps you should ask ________? I heard him/her expressing interest before.

It’s ok to say no. It’s ok to put your foot down and draw a boundary, even with admin. ESPECIALLY with admin. Even when you are new to teaching. ESPECIALLY when new to teaching.

8. Have an exit plan.

Still, even implementing all of these things to prevent burn out, there could be a chance that it’ll happen anyway. Besides experiencing it myself, I’ve also seen it happen to many, and to the best. One day, teaching is just no longer your passion or drive. It can happen over decades, or overnight.

People sometimes look upon quitters as wusses – especially in any field that centers on helping people, like medicine or education. Why would you be so selfish as to quit helping kids learn? How hard could it be, playing with glue and paint and ball all day?

On the contrary, it takes tons of courage to quit, especially if it’s all one has ever known. It’s scary, that big wide unknown. And sometimes, it’s easier to stick to something familiar, even if it makes you unhappy or stresses you out constantly, than to leap into the void.

I’ve found that branching out makes that leap less scary. It’s kind of like having a back-up plan, something on the back-burner. But it’s still something you enjoy and have interest in exploring rather than something solely for the purpose of safety. And it can be the most mundane thing. If Marie Kondo turned her cleaning quirks into an industry, then I can do the same with my penchant to make everything into a chart. Oh wait, someone already did.

For me, I’m going to see how far I can take this little blog. There’s a bunch of other projects I would like to explore as well, including getting certified to be a pilates instructor, and participating in baking competitions. But for now, I’m going to say yes to one thing at a time.

How have you dealt with burn out?

AVID summer institute 2017

I realize haven’t written a lot about AVID in the past. This post from 4 years ago was the only post I could find that outlined anything in detail about what I learned at a past AVID institute.

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This summer was my third AVID institute, not counting the weekend seminar I did a couple years ago. I’ve done the Math 1 strand (twice), and the AVID for elective teachers once. I was supposed to be scheduled for the Tutorology session, but long story short I’m NOT going to be one of the AVID elective teachers this coming school year. So I can finally do the Math 2 strand. Yay!

Besides all the quality bonding/team-building time with my colleagues, I walked away from summer institute this year with summaries on these 3 big essential questions:

1. How do I convince my reluctant colleagues to jump into the AVID cool-aid?

The people I know who are less than bought in on AVID all have one common thread amongst them: they dislike how AVID is very ‘my way or the highway’ in terms of the entire system, structure, pedagogy, and philosophy. And I see how that perception can come about. There’s an AVID book – er, books, I should say – that read like a sports play book. The highly structured binder checks, Cornell notes and interactive notebook, Socratic Seminar, Philosophical Chairs, etc….it can seem very paint-by-numbers and there’s a good contingent who don’t like that.

A lot of the strategies, and even the general philosophy, of AVID are not actually….well, AVID. AVID kind of claims these things, renames them, and stamps it with their brand. And if people don’t like that, well, me too. Any teacher knows that organization of both materials and thoughts are important for success. Socratic Seminar is a version of fishbowl discussion. Philosophical Chairs is basically 4 Corners. And Cornell notes came from Cornell.

However, I’ve never once got the impression that any AVID person, nor the organization as a whole, have claimed these strategies because they want to also claim the credit for coming up with them. What AVID does is compiles the practices research says improves learning, synthesizes then chunks it, and scaffolds it for teacher professional development. Yeah, schools pay for the AVID accreditation process as well as for the resources and services AVID provides – and it’s rather expensive and sometimes convoluted. But the expense of a product and the convolution of a company rarely hinders people from purchasing, say, $200 running shoes.

AVID highly encourages people to take these strategies and make them your own. They have an outline, description, and samples of each strategy that is incorporated into an AVID elective or subject matter class. But in no way is one limited to following these step-by-painstaking-step. The AVID handbook for each subject/strand changes from year-to-year. More is added. Things that were not clear are made clearer. The complicated becomes streamlined. The AVID site plan is a living, breathing document for a living, breathing process. These characteristics about AVID have helped me to become a more empowered teacher.

To summarize, a) you may already be AVIDed, since these ideas are not new. You just don’t realize it! And b) AVID is less of a defined box and more of a growing, living flexible blob.

2. What was the most challenging thing to implement?

This question was asked of me by a Math 1 person when I was asked to go and present what I learned from Math 2 and in my practice of AVID strategies. Surprisingly, I didn’t know any of the following until I verbalized it in front of a table full of AVID newbies. I’m grateful to the person who asked this question.

Nothing about AVID was challenging to implement. Gosh, I sound so conceited. Let me explain.

First, I again repeat that none of the strategies in the AVID handbooks are new. I learned the basics of all these things during my credentialing program, or at other trainings, or just through experience. Organization is a taught and practiced skill, not just something to nag a student about. Note-taking and note-revising is another skill that will serve students throughout their lives, whether in college or outside of it. Being culturally and linguistically relevant helps close the achievement gap between under-resourced students and their more fortunate peers. I didn’t just drink the cool-aid, I was born in it. I live in it. It’s my water.

Second, I have a lot of interest in refining my teaching practice. I’m invested in it. In the trenches, I see the lightbulbs go off. My current students tell me about the brand new world I helped open for them – math is accessible to them now. It’s not as confusing, not as anxiety inducing. Hey! A few of them even like it now. My past students come back and tell me how they have used every skill I taught them, and how well these skills have served them.

Implementing AVID strategies – any new strategy, for that matter – is difficult, time-consuming, slow, hit-or-miss, trial-and-error. It is also enjoyable. So I don’t find it challenging, even if it can be a challenge.

3. Is it possible for a non-advanced/non-accelerated class to also be rigorous?

HELLZ YAS.

I’m not sure that a lot of people, including my principal, understand this. I thought it was just him, but after doing some link research for another post, I realized that he probably isn’t the only one. Great Schools considers only advanced courses as rigorous. Many parents push for their students to be in the accelerated math pathway at my site. I suppose the people who DO think it is possible for a non-advanced/non-accelerated class to be rigorous is actually in the minority.

Anyway, when we were going through Costa’s Levels of Thinking, it totally hit me much harder than ever before. Higher order thinking does not necessarily equate with higher level math knowledge. In the Math 2 strand, I met a teacher who teaches a higher level math than I do, but at the same time struggled enough with the math part so as to constantly need guidance through solving the problems in each lesson demonstration – lessons that came from a lower level math than the one she taught.

Another example: An 8th grade student might not have any idea of how to find f‘(4) of a given function, but in essence this is still kind of a ‘plug-and-chug’ problem. In contrast, consider this volcano problem. The content standard is from 7th grade, or thereabouts. The threshold is at a low enough point that anyone can find a place to start. But it definitely NOT only level 1 thinking on Costa’s scale.

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In the end, I suppose it comes down to how a school site defines rigor. Clearly, my principal defines rigor to be higher math knowledge. I would respectfully disagree.

4. Never ever leave a street parking spot without checking to make sure whether it is metered or not.

Unless you want a $50 parking ticket. ‘Nuff said.

What has your experience with AVID been like?

Thoughts on passion at work

As I’m writing this, I’m standing at the front of a class of 22 middle school engineering students constructing their paper roller coasters. Everyone is engaged in their creations, and working appropriately within their teams. I have my eye on a couple of girls being rather slothful and making every excuse to leave the room (they just left again – and they better not make me regret that choice).

Several years ago, I wouldn’t have dared to multi-task in front of a class of students like this. My attention would be completely focused on the room and what the students are (or are not) doing. But more and more, I find myself reading and answer emails, or writing out future lesson plans during class time.

Granted, the engineering camp is very different from a normal math lesson. Most activities are self-directed, with very little direct instruction involved. This particular group of students are super interested in what they are doing, and in general work well with each other. If any of those things weren’t in place, I wouldn’t be blogging right now.

It has led me to question whether I’m gaining more skill in teaching or whether I’m losing some passion in this career. I’ve been a bit…bored.

But wait! Only ‘boring people are bored.’ What’s up with that?

I really don’t know what’s up with that. I don’t know whether I’m still tired from the regular school year, or this isn’t challenging to me anymore, or a combination of these two and then some.

Looking back, I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve:

  • chaired school site council
  • lead the math department for 4 years
  • created curriculum from scratch, including writing a workbook
  • presented at conferences
  • learned at even more conferences
  • graduated with a masters
  • created the math EL and intervention programs from scratch
  • interviewed new hires, both teaching and admin
  • mentored student teachers

I still like doing these things. I definitely love my co-workers. But I’m getting that ‘wanderlust’ itch to do something new. Something different. To take a risk and accept a challenge that involves putting myself in a vulnerable place to get judged, and possibly rejected or condemned. This blog fulfills a little bit of that.

Wow. That sounds horrible. Who would ever want to do that? But it’s that….or boredom. There has to be another solution, right? RIGHT?! I suppose I can also do more new things in my personal life as well. Too much comfort. Too much complacency.

What are some ways that you get out of your comfort zone?