Tweet yo’ self: MTBoS Mission #2

I’ve been on twitter for years now, joining back when it first appeared. I have a habit of joining whatever the new thing is (although I’m not on Vine yet because I can’t be bothered, and my Instragram is really only used to follow the exploits of attractive male actors). I just passed the 8,000 tweet mark. I tweet a lot.

Until this year my feed was almost exclusively TV critics. I’m a TV junkie so that’s how I kept up on what was happening on Homeland and Mad Men and whatnot. But Sam introduced me to the MTBoS and so I started following all the teachers he recommended. My feed is now 50-50 TV updates and Teaching updates (which is only confusing sometimes). And I have to say it’s the most amazing resource I’ve found so far. Blog posts are wordy and I get behind on them really, really quickly. But quick links on Twitter appeal to my 30-second attention span. It’s also great to see experienced teachers post a quick update about what’s going on in their classrooms that wouldn’t necessarily warrant a whole blog post. Something simple like “Students did better on the test than I expected, whew!” helps give a sense of community that is very much needed after some of my long days. And as a first year teacher I take some degree of relief in seeing experienced teachers go “Well that was a shit-show”.  It’s also incredibly helpful to have quick conversations about things. I’m not sure how to post the exchange, but I just had a quick conversation with @justinAion about bathroom policies. Nothing world-shaking, but interesting nonetheless.  

I had a post about this earlier, but to reiterate, my twitter handle is @stoodle.  My tweets are usually protected. I’ve debated a lot about this with myself and bounce back and forth between protected and not. My biggest problem is, unlike my website, my twitter handle is pretty well tied into the rest of my digital footprint, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with someone being able to see everything about me. Especially when I’m bitching about school. Or just bitching about life.  But I’ve decided that for the duration of this mission I will unprotect my tweets, and maybe pick up a few hundred new friends. If you’re reading this feel free to give my feed a perusal. And I will try to do the same. 

Currently I’m super-behind on the Comments section of these missions, I hope to rectify that within the next few days. But at the moment I’ve got 60 projects to grade and three lessons to plan while also compiling a mock regents, all before bed! 

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Mine Own Classroom

For Mission 1 of the Explore MTBoS project, I have been asked to describe what makes my classroom uniquely my own. Which is a difficult question as it’s only been uniquely mine for a month now (yesterday was officially the one-month mark).  I’ve spent half of my time running about like a crazy person and the fact that I have posters on the wall is more a feature of dumb-luck than anything else.  My routines are still developing and consistency isn’t necessarily my constant companion.  But that said, one thing I’m trying to implement that I’m very proud of is my Tips and Tricks wall.

Based on something I observed during my student teaching, the basic intention is that I have a place in the room where students can explain how to do the math we are doing. Rather than me constantly explaining how to combine like terms or how to find common denominators, I want my students to write out explanations in their own words. I want them to include tips or tricks that they consider, and to explain how they approach a certain kind of problem. It’s been my experience, especially when I was tutoring, that there are a million and one ways to explain material. And it’s also been my experience that Person A and Person B can explain something exactly the same way, but through some vague unquantifiable reason it only clicks when person B explains it rather than person A.

The goal is to have students see each other as a resource. And not just the high-performing kids, although they are more likely to get the material quickly.  Students that come in for tutoring after-school and finally understand a concept after working on it for hours are perhaps an even greater resource, because it is their peers that are struggling in similar ways. If they can explain how it finally clicked for them, then maybe that will work for someone else.  Explanations are also great practice for the Regents and Common Core.

The wall is a work in progress.  I have one or two things up there, but right now it’s mostly my posters from class rather than student made posters. I do currently have word banks on the wall where we can record key words that might indicate which operation to use in different word problems. I added one or two words to it, but when I was walking by the other day one of my students had added 8 or 9 words! I have no idea who it was, but it’s so freaking cool that they feel comfortable adding material to the board.  I think I just have to start asking for more and more submissions from students, and bribing them with incentives.  I dream of a day when the board is so full of stuff I have to ask students to write less.

As we go I will try to take pictures and post them as it  develops.