Hello Friends! I hope you and yours are healthy and taking care of each other.

Yesterday we conducted teaching interviews online. From years of experience both on interview panels and being a successful interviewee, I thought I would share some pointers with you. Please share and please let me know when you get the job!

PS These are all real examples, I did not make any of them up!

Please do NOT:

1) assume teaching is causal and show up in jeans or wrinkled clothing. (Many re-entry programs offer free professional clothing)

2) start every sentence with Me, My, I

as in "My students love me or when I took the SAT..." or when asked how you will contribute to a team say, "I don't know..."

3) assume all students are created equal or have access to the same resources.

4) ask "Where are you located?" or "How many students are in your school?" or "What physical safety measures are in place in the classroom?"

5) answer tech questions generically as in "I love computers," and "Computers are very useful."
and finally, oh friend, when conducting an online interview, please don't show the shelves in your frat house living room.

Please Do these things instead:

  •  Do your research! All districts and schools have websites. Many have WASC reports or, in California, we have the The California School Dashboard. Check out a local newspaper for the school sports pages or what how the Oddessy of the Mind team did in their last competition. What was the last play, musical, or band performance of the school? Find a friend of a friend of a friend whose kid goes to the school. Know what curriculum they use in advance.

  • Show that you are committed to healthy, positive relationships with students. Be specific. Mention a student by name, a colleague by name, or talk about how you connected with a student's family. 

  • Have a good failure story. Make sure you talk about how you corrected course and who you reached out to help you.
  • Show how you are a team player. Mention common assessment, mention a time when you collaborated with another teacher or team of teachers. Be willing to contribute and learn.
  • Have some specific strategies for working with special populations (I mean they are all special, right?) Include awareness of limited English speakers, students with IEPs or 504s. 
  • Make sure you know the standards in your area of learning and especially the social/emotional curriculum that matches. 
  • Don't be afraid to be new to teaching. Your experience is important, whether it is coaching, military, or retail. Your work history shows your work habits, your ability to work with people, and take direction. 
  • Don't be afraid to show your years, and years, and years of experience. This is your moment! 
  • Remember that you are more than being interviewed, you are also making sure the organization is a fit for you. Have FUN! Smile! Know that even if you don't get the job, you will learn something valuable. 

Good Luck!!! 
Image result for reefer and smokeToday, K came to class after lunch reeking like weed. (Yeah, I live in California, I know what it smells like). I call the campus supervisors and ask that they come get him, his smell is that distracting. I am about to text that he left his phone (Why would he leave his phone? How many kids would forget a phone, unless the consequences of what is on his phone is worse than it getting stolen or him having to live without it for 24 hours?) when I get this text from the supervisors, "He admitted smoking. We gave him something to eat so he wouldn't smell, can he come back to class?" What! No he can't come back to class! The students would all want to know what happened, who said what, blah, blah, blah...Talk about distracting. And yet...he wanted to come back to class. What is the more thoughtful moment? As a parent, what do you want for your son or daughter? Done the road, in one year, two years, as a young adult, will K think, "Zimmer is cool, she let me smoke weed and come back to class." or will he stop and say, "I could have gone through school stoned, but it wasn't worth it?"

Things like this used to be clear cut. Not so much anymore. Where is a student safest? (K spent the rest of the period in the student adviser's office.) Could K have benefited more from my math help or my insistence that he doesn't come to school stoned? I think I know the answer to that. Thanks for letting me rant.

When K returns, I will make sure he knows that I love him, that I won't let this incident define him for me, and let him know I want the best for him.
Write first, title later.

Danielle Buckman: "A rubric for the level of understanding tells a student not only where they are, but where they can end up."

Part 1

This is a two part post--the learning piece is second, so if you want PD and to learn more about writing rubrics for understanding, skip to the second half, I completely understand, time is the one definitively limited resource we have. The first half is how I got to be so awesome. Joking aside, I must give credit for how I have become a more conscientious teacher/human.

How do I know this? I feel it. I can feel it within and from the relationships I have with my students. And my husband, who has been my partner for all but my first year of teaching, has been more appreciative of my work too, less "you are always working," to more, "I notice how calm and confident you are."

I am deeply appreciative of so many people who make me a better teacher: The students for sure, they are my audience and have my full attention when I am crafting. Their feedback is unfiltered and immediate, whether they are humming or delivering crickets.

The #MTBoS community is my rock, where I also get unfiltered and immediate professional and sustaining support. Since 2012, the quality of the human in this sphere makes me strive to be my best self more than any other realm. This is a blessing, but can also bring some sadness, as this is what I want more regularly with my home colleagues and especially my district.

Thank you to College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM) for rich tasks and curriculum I enjoy.

Which brings me to another appreciation, my colleague extraordinaire, Danielle. She is a go-getter. She brings all the best from being a millennial straight into the teaching profession. No moss grows on that woman. We have very different backgrounds, she complements my wiggles and dreaminess with her clearly defined, no nonsense organized approach. We both love the roots of learning.  We both love what good pedagogy and technology can do to inspire a student's curiosity. What makes students motivated to learn? We run from room to room, sometimes 5 minutes before the bell, with, "hey, I can't even do this that I spent over an hour writing yesterday, I'm going to do this instead." and for each other, we are like, "Heck yeah, that is awesome!" In the last six years, she is the one who gets the my love affair with #TMC and understands that the risk of failure is worth the growing pains. This post is about how having a colleague with patience and humility makes all the difference. And Oh, it is about writing rubrics.

Part 2 

My College Readiness students have been working on functions and their transformations.

I started with this kind of function:

And had students make tables and explore with technology (TI-84 and Desmos) what a, b, h, and k do to the graph. Next we looked at the parent graphs and the equations. We even looked at Spaceman Snoopy

f(snoopy) = (snoopy + 4) +8

g(x) = f(-Snoopy) 

(We live in Sonoma County the home of Charles Schultz). The students agreed, given an equation, they could mostly move the graph around, and that given a graph to move they were okay with that too. But given a graph of function already transformed was not so easy. We working on this for days and I wanted the students to get serious. Nothing like throwing in a little formative assessment. to light a few fires. What did I want to assess???

In comes Danielle, our TOSA for the year. That is exactly what she asked me: "What do you want to assess?" So now I understand the difference (Thank you TOSA) between writing a rubric for SBG and writing a rubric for level of understanding.  I will do my best to explain:

I wanted to give students a clear picture of what I considered conceptual understanding.  Danielle kept asking, "What are you trying to measure? A standard or a level of understanding?" Further she points out the most important difference, "A rubric for the level of understanding tells a student not only where they are, but where they can end up." I want the students to understand what they know. Of course there are overlaps in Content Mastery and Understanding the Concept. But what information does, "met standard" mean to a learner? Not enough. I want to provide the most useful information to the student. (There is so much I want them to understand!) Slowing down to put it in writing is a very good practice for me.

First attempt at rubric for level of understanding:

5--I can write an equation given the graph of a transformation.
4-- I can explain and accurately graph any transformation from a graph or equation.
3--Basic understanding: I can explain what a, h, and k do to a graph
2- Approaching understanding: I can explain what a, h, or k do to a graph.
1- I am breathing

This was the task was taken from CPM Math 4, Pre-Calculus with Trigonometry
Students were completely engaged, learned how to ask the questions they needed to clarify their understanding. I got mostly 3 and 3.5's with one 5!

Next day after asking D again what is the difference between SBG and Level of Understanding?

I made a few improvements:

5- Deep Understanding: I can write the equation of a transformation given the graph of a parent function.
4-General Understanding: I can accurately graph a transformation given a graph or equation.
3-Basic Understanding: I can explain what h, k, a and b do in the transformation of a function.
2-Approaching Understanding: I can explain what h, k, a or b to the graph of a function.

I wished I had asked them what they thought their levels of understanding were before and after, not just after. This time I will have to be satisfied with end of informative assessment and just after summative assessment.
Always more to think about.

What is an assessment win and fail you've experienced in your teaching?

approaching met exceeding not yelow  SBG

5--more room for student to grow--level of understasnding 5-points
Happy New School Year! Sam over at https://samjshah.com/ (You should check out his blog because, he is Sam and he is awesome!) reminded me us that there is a hashtag for folks like us: #MTBoSFD (Math Twitter Blog O Sphere First Days). He also promised to blog twice for

Thanks to @druinok. So here are my our First Days Stations inspired by @magicalmsmurphy.

This is Danielle:
She is the most amazing math 

teacher ever. See that precious bundle on the right? Danielle is so creative, she made a baby and took a year off from teaching. I am so over the moon that she will be my neighbor once again this fall. I have to share her 1/2 time with precious baby bundle o' joy, but that is okay. 

Inspired by  @magicalmsmurphy, an English Teacher in Los Angeles, California we took her idea and sat down today 
for three hours plan our own first day stations. We have 90 minute blocks and will have the students move 
stations every 7 minutes. We will give the students 90 seconds to get to the next station. 

Created by Danielle Graff and Amy Zimmer for grades 9-11

The Purpose:
1) To establish that our classrooms are learning communities.
2) To establish that we Math everyday in our classrooms.

The Set Up:
Students will be randomly assigned to groups of 4.
We will practice how to move around to stations before we let the students actually get to work/play.
Students will go through an introductory activity before they move to their station work. 
We decided that the students will have a record sheet to bring with them for each station. Not all stations
will have something to record, but we want the students to get accustomed to having evidence of their 

Behind The Scenes:
Danielle being Danielle, and the master of all things organizational, started a Google Doc. We designed 
the stations, then went back and determined what was needed for each station (my idea--just so you get 
that this was truly a collaboration). Then we went back through and assigned the needed tasks to each of us.

Husband: You spent 3 hours working on the first day? 
Me: Yeah, I and that was 50% of the work. 

Left To Do:
Determine an exit ticket (will it be part of the activity sheet or separate and what will it be?
How will we debrief? 
And our assigned tasks of course. 

Here you go: 


First Day Stations:

1. Syllabus + Scavenger Hunt – Stickies notes for parking lot questions and comments
Regular post-its, white board for notes, syllabus copies, supply list, scavenger hunt on recording sheet
How do we want intructions to go? IE student reads a question and all try to find answer? Each spends 4-5 minutes looking on own and then all together round robin read so that everyone has the correct answers?

2. Target Number Station – whiteboards, pens, rags NEED CALCULATORS AT MATH STATIONS!!
Space to write down on record sheet that has target number (which is 851 using 50, 1, 20, 5, 63, 10) How close can they get to target number, what is the lowest number they can make and what is the largest number they can make with the given numbers

A- Target number Station & laminate
D - Recording Sheet for ALL stations
3. FlipGrid – need ipad or chromebook and to download the app
Students give us there: name, age and something they are looking forward to this year – we, as teacher need to record an example. SO they watch ours and then record their own.

A&D - Learn how to use and create our own intro video
4. Community Agreements: make a list of agreements that support a safe classroom and create an optimal learning environment, group will need to pick a typist based on who is the oldest.
- Google Form, minimum of 4 suggestions

D- Google Survey
5. Consecutive Chains – For HW students will do two more chains and then create their own + 2-3 order of operations problems

D - Add blank consecutive chains to recording Sheet

A - Station & Directions & Example

6. Notice & Wonder: color print and laminate maps, create google form, students don’t have to write anything just respond on google form.

A - Color copy & Laminate

D - Google Form

A and D--prepare “reveal slides”
7. Order of operations – analyze the math problem that has been going around NEED CALCULATORS AT MATH STATIONS!!

A - station with directions
D - Add space for this on recording sheet

 8. Mindset Reading: Read mindset rubric as a group and make sure students understand what each category is saying, pencils down! Students take clipboard, highlighter and rubric outside to evaluate themselves privately. On the back of sheet they chose one category that they want to move over in and write some ideas on how they think they’ll do that.


A - Station Directions
D - Break up Rubric and Laminate
 We are going to practice going to stations before we actually do them, how do you go to the station, how do you leave the station, leave the station the way you found them for the next group, rules for stations discussion (no talking outside your group, no cell phones) before the stations we have the students introduce themselves (How do we want this done??)  to each other, NEED CALCULATORS AT MATH STATIONS!!

Brain Break in between stations? Brain Break halfway through? Ask questions that get them standing? (If you play a fall sport, stay standing, etc.)

 How/When to Debrief

Please let us know if you use stations on the first day how it goes. Also hit us up with any suggestions or comments!