#DITLife: March 16, 2017

This post is part of the “Day in the Life” project by Tina Cardone.

7:39am – For having a snow day on Tuesday, this week has still been very crazy. I was later today than I like to be, and I had to finish my reflections for the last DITLife post. I love this project and detailing my day, but I’m bad about writing the reflections. Mainly because I feel like I say the same things every month. I also forgot my watch which isn’t a big thing but is annoying. But not as annoying as forgetting my coffee yesterday.

Today in Algebra 2 we’re introducing the Sine and Cosine function graphs, which is always exciting. My co-worker Kat made the slides and worksheet, plus we get to use Desmos! I think it’s going to be a really fun lesson. I still have to finish grading their quizzes from last week on Rational functions, and I have an independent problem solving project I haven’t graded in weeks. But I’m planning the lessons on Tuesday and Wednesday so those won’t get graded this weekend.

In IB Studies 2, we’re pretty much done with new content. Today kids are going to start preparing presentations on some example problems, and then we switch into full review mode until the IB exams during the first week in May. The seniors are increasingly checking out of class, so I can tell it’s going to be a rough month and a half.

I’m going to go stand at the door to greet kids as they come in for 15 minutes, and then I have a department meeting and teach second and third periods. So I’ll be back around 10.:30. Sidenote: WordPress isn’t moving along as fast as I type so I keep not being able to see the last sentence I typed. It’s annoying because of all the typos.

10:37am – Back at my desk. Today feels weird, partly because I’m very tired. But also there was the snow day on Tuesday, and I had to put out a fire in the bathroom yesterday. Like, a literal fire. The Studies class was just boring for me because they were all working on their presentations. Algebra 2 went ok, except we tried to do a Desmos activity and all of our laptops are crap. It’s so frustrating, because I LOVE Desmos so much and they get so much out of it. But the set-up and clean-up is such a pain in the neck. Plus we have two concurrent classes but only 28 laptops, so it’s tricky to manage power and availability of functioning laptops. Some of them work on laptops, but then that has other challenges. There are ways to deal with all of these things, but sometimes I get overwhelmed.

Then I also had to run around and have some conversations about GID seniors. That always takes so much time to find the people I need to talk to (both students and staff) and have conversations about it.

12:35 pm – I have a bad habit of walking away halfway through a blog post because I realize there are ten more things I have to do. After the last post I went and observed a few minutes of a history class and then walked through a “catch-up” plan for a senior who is struggling. Then I taught my second class of seniors, which is similar to the first except even less motivated to do work. It’s a hot mess.

Just ordered Thai for lunch, and now I have to track down my co-teachers to talk about Algebra 2. I feel like there’s something else I have to do during this period but I can’t remember what it is, so…

1:35 pm – Eating lunch quick while writing emails about seniors. Never a dull moment.

3:30 pm – Just finished a meeting with a history teacher and one of the seniors to set out a plan for graduation. Setting those up is difficult because it’s like “Let’s do everything by next week!” I think we have something set-up that’s going to be ok, though, as long as he can keep up with it. Right now I’m off to go see the movie “Gender Revolution” for our QSA.

5:00 pm – The movie was interesting, but there weren’t a lot of kids in attendance. In hindsight I wish I had talked about it in my classes. I hate all the little balls that get dropped in a day, because I feel so bad about it. Sidenote: Katie Couric asking Siri to define major gender identity terminology is a little awkward. Although not as awkward as asking the trans girl her birth name, and then asking her to define “Dead naming”, IN PRE-OP. But the intention was good and more people should watch it.

Two quick emails about the seniors, and now I’m off to get my taxes done. With my MfA money taxes are confusing sometimes, so I’ve always gone to H&R Block, but this year I think I may do TurboTax to save the fee. I’m not sure if that’s a good plan or not, but I will see. Running out now.

Reflection (Written on 4/6/2017)

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 didn’t plan the Algebra 2 lesson, but I’m glad that we used Desmos some. I think too often I blame technological difficulties for not using it more, but there are ways around that if you really try. About a week after I originally wrote this post I had an extra day with my first Algebra 2 class, so I did marbleslides with periodic functions, and it was freaking amazing. The kids were engaged and arguing.

The presentations we had in IB Studies, however, were not good. I keep being unsure of exactly what I want those to look like, so they wind up looking like nothing good. I need to just pick a point of view and stick with it.

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 am looking forward to break, because this six-week stretch has been killer. I’m on fumes at the moment, and  as soon as the last bell rings tomorrow I am out of here. I’m only bringing home the 29 senior midterms to grade, and everything else is getting left behind. It’s really nice that we’ll have eleven days off, I’m hoping I can recharge and hit the ground running when we get back. Seniors are reviewing for the IB exams, so I need to maintain momentum there while also working to plan what they’ll do after the exams are over. I like planning logistics like that, but it’s also stressful.

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.

 

Working with the graduation-in-doubt kids has been both exhausting and rewarding. Trying to find the kids and then figure out why they are struggling is a lot of work, and it’s stressful because if we don’t get it right then the kid won’t graduate on time. I think too much of this is probably left for the end of senior year when it should take place earlier. But in at least one case I’ve noticed a definite difference in how a student is doing. They still struggle, but I think I’ve been able to lift a weight off of their shoulders and that has been really good. I just want them to succeed, but sometimes they read my stress as frustration with them, and I’ve trying to get better about my messaging.

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?

I had to actually go back and look at what my goals were. I tweeted a few weeks ago that this is the point where I start to forget all the grand plans I had for the year.  I don’t think I’ve been as good about notes and organization as I want to be. There are some lessons that work better with a guided worksheet, but then that worksheet gets lost in the shuffle. But I HATE kids using binders for notes because the papers go EVERYWHERE. I haven’t found a good solution. I’ve also gotten sloppy about closing lessons. Even just a sentence of “Today we learned…” generated from the kids would make a huge difference.

5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?

I applied to be a Desmos fellow! And I’m working on planning the MfA NYC Summer conference. Now I just need to work on my MfA Master Teacher application over break.