This post is part of the “Day in the Life” project by Tina Cardone.
8:36am – Today is the day of the math interim assessment for the fall semester, so I’ve been running around like a crazy person trying to make sure all the tests are distributed appropriately and calculators are squared away. It’s overall a very stressful process, but it’s good that we’re checking in with the students to see where they are. Luckily until these exams are done I’m completely up-to-date with grading, which never happens. So that means I can devote all my time to the 99 12-page exams I’m collecting in two hours. Yay!
It’s also the day of the staff holiday party so I had to bring in a cake for that. It’s wicked cold out which sucks, but it’s nice to celebrate with everyone. I’m also helping to MC the game we’re playing this year, which should be fun.
9:36am – I made the slides for the faculty party game. We’re playing a version of the newlywed game, but with departments guessing. It should be fun. Also I have to keep running about to help teachers administer the exam, which means I’ve gotten very little productive done.
12:10pm – Collected and sorted exams, and made a key for Algebra 2. We also talked through the lesson we’re doing on Monday. I’m not sure exactly why all of that took so much time. I’m also not sure what I need to get done by next week. So I’m going to think about it on my way to get lunch. It was so nice not having a mountain of grading. Oh well.
1:16pm – Back with lunch and watching this video on teaching Binomial Theorem. We’re doing a self-guided worksheet the last day before break to introduce kids to binomial expansion since we just did operations with polynomials, and even though they won’t use the probability applications anytime soon it feels like a nice self-contained activity. I love going to bit.ly/MTBOSS because I get to find Kate’s post about the Binomial Theorem that I’ve learned so much about just now.
Right now I’m torn between wanting to power through some grading just so it’s done and wanting to do some planning because I hate grading. I also have 5 more letters of recommendation to write and I feel like I should just get those over with.
2:05pm – Finally made the popsicle sticks I’ve been meaning to make all year. It’s a little thing but super overdue. Some of my old students came in to hang out/avoid the auditorium “study hall” they had so we chatted. I’m really close to a lot of seniors now and it’s going to be very weird when they leave. I’m going to finish creating the markscheme for the IB Studies test before heading to the holiday party.
Overall today was not a bad day. I have a mountain of crap to do that I hopefully can get done before I leave for Winter Break, but we’ll see. I’ll probably go straight to happy hour after the party, and then home for games with some friends, so I imagine this is it for the day.
Reflection (Written on 12/22/16)
1) Teachers make a lot of decisions throughout the day. Sometimes we make so many it feels overwhelming. When you think about today, what is a decision/teacher move you made that you are proud of? What is one you are worried wasn’t ideal?
I’m glad that we’re introducing the Binomial theorem through an independent discovery activity. I think it will be good for kids to notice the patterns that exist on their own, knowing that there is a pattern to be found. I’m also glad I made the popsicle sticks because it will force me to hear from more students in class. I just have to remember to give them turn-and-talk time, and to normalize the idea that it’s OK to say “I don’t know.”
Whenever we give an exam I spend the whole time worrying that the decisions we made were not ideal. It’s really difficult to choose questions that are the right level of difficulty. After flipping through the exams, the wrong answers always jump out. But I ran the scantrons and those were actually pretty good overall, so I’m hopeful.
2) Every person’s life is full of highs and lows. Share with us some of what that is like for a teacher. What are you looking forward to? What has been a challenge for you lately?
I’m looking forward to break. I’m exhausted. In an attempt to have more of a work-life balance, I’ve been making more plans after school and on the weekends. The problem is, the workload isn’t lower, just the amount of time I’m devoting to it. So I wind up being behind and stressed all the time. And the few days I don’t have plans I wind up staying late to catch up. And the fact that I’m behind means I’m not doing as good a job as I could be, so I just start feeling terrible about everything. A few days of no work and no students will help me to recharge. I’ve already decided I’m not taking the Algebra 2 exams home, which will force me to relax because I can’t possibly do anything about it.
3) We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is. As teachers we work to build relationships with our coworkers and students. Describe a relational moment you had with someone recently.
The holiday party is a really important time for us as a staff to come together and be people instead of just educators. I think the game we played went really well, and even though I was really nervous I think everyone had a good time. Then happy hour afterward was also really nice because far more people go than at a normal happy hour, and it was a really great chance to talk to people I wouldn’t normally talk to. I’m really glad it’s a tradition we’ve stuck with, and I wish I didn’t leave as early as I did.
4) Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year. What have you been doing to work toward your goal? How do you feel you are doing?
This week, as I work on exit slips, I’ve been trying to think of ways to synthesize everything. It’s really difficult to teach a new concept, give them time to practice, and then also give them time to synthesize, all in 45 minutes. It works better on discovery lessons than it does with direct instruction, I just need to keep that in mind.
Also this week I’ve cracked down on students not having lesson numbers, dates, and the essential question written down. I want their notes to be far more organized than they have been, and to me the easiest way is to at least have a date and lesson number. I think I need to do a better job of coming back to the EQ at the end of the lesson so we can reflect on the answer.
The Social Justice Professional Learning Team at MfA that I took this semester just ended last week. I sort of feel like I didn’t get a ton out of it, but then I also look at the stack of resources I have. I guess I don’t know what I wanted out of it. I guess I want to sit down with a curriculum map and figure out what SJ topics match with which lessons. The whole “What are you teaching next week? Let’s plan for that!” doesn’t work because making time for those lessons isn’t super easy. Depending on the course selections I may do it again next semester, but we’ll have to see.
5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?
Since Thanksgiving break we got a new couch and I’ve seen three shows on Broadway, so there’s been a lot happening. Overall I really like how Algebra 2 is coming along, even if a lot of kids still struggle. And I can’t wait for the IB Studies internal project to be over because I’m bored just watching the kids type (while also being stressed that they’re not actually being productive).