New School.

My year feels like it starts in August. That is the "new" year for me. After 24 years in the same huge comprehensive public high school, (with two odd years, one for a leave where I ended up starting this blog and teaching 4 sections of Algebra 1 in my daughters' local high school, and one for a year teaching in Ghana) I returned to my dream job of teaching overseas for good. Accepting a job for as long as they will have me. 

How to go back over 80 days of lessons to look for the highlights? How in the heck do you do that? My lesson plan book isn't detailed enough, and having three preps to look through each set of Google Slides is way too daunting. Oh so now a new idea is arising, at the end of the day/week, jot the best of, worst of. Do any of you already do that? Make notes to yourself? "Do that again!" "Meh." "Change for next year!" I never do the first two, and absolutely do the the last one.

What I kept up from remote learning even though we were face to face:

  • Google Slides. They got better and more useful. I was able to make copies from day to day and they kept ME organized. 

What I integrate more often that has made a huge difference:
  • Clothesline Math for my Foundations Class. These 9th graders can do complex thinking when a task is given to them in the structure of Clothesline Math. For example,  My students can do this easily when physically presented on a two long double clotheslines:
  • And if given sqrt(4x) = 21, they can do that too (I was just playing with them) 
    But on their test: 5(x-20) = 44 -x  had only a 50% solve rate. 
    So now how to move that to independent work moving the information systematically onto paper.  (I even invited my AP in to watch)
  • Visually Random Groups with Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces--thank you to the #MTBoS for the encouragement.
  • Visual Patterns--thanks Fawn and everyone
What I have been learning:
  • My students have PTSD from too much self-learning. I know how much we all love Desmos, and it works especially well when we build an AB that is specific to our students and they can see themselves as part of the class. I have been giving less tech stuff (even did a few constructions by hand) and more hands-on activities. I know some students groan and HATE interactive notebooks, AND since they only have one or two classes that use them (usually science is the other), I feel like they can handle it. I make sure they understand the why behind everything I hand them. (Funnily enough, they cry, "Miss, the trees, the trees." and I have to grouse back, if I hear one more cry over recycled paper and you went out on your boat or jet ski this weekend, we are going to have to have a chat--rich kid island life)
  • That I may not be new and shiny and know how to present in a new and shiny way, And, I am a seasoned professional. That doesn't mean I know it all, I learn so much from my newer colleagues. What it means is that I can recover very quickly from my mistakes and course correct on a dime. One grace in not being new and shiny.
What feels good:
  • My students are very open to trying new things, even the INBs, (They have never been invited to stand and write on the windows) As are my middle school colleagues. I am seen as resource, not a threat. I love this. While my IB colleagues are open to ME asking anything, they do not seek out the "thinking classroom" way. I don't know if that is the pressure of IB, or if it is an "if it ain't broke" attitude. (I did get them completely hooked on Delta Math) An example is Point-Slope form of a line. I teach all the 10th graders. This is not the most confident group and have been seen that way since middle school as I am told by those who have taught them before me. I watched them struggle with the point-slope form--they are not ready. My IB colleague told me he wouldn't "waste" one hour teaching that to his incoming 11th graders. I said, "you will do it." I will prepare them, They will be more confident and more willing to learn a year from now. Let's just know you will spend a productive hour they can grasp on Point-Slope form,  and I will keep building their thinking capacity. 
  • Going back to not being new and shiny, I find solace in knowing what I know, what WE know, that I learn from you all.
This is a great place to stop for now. Part of what makes it hard to blog is thinking you have little of value to add, and then you start typing. Thanks Carl Oliver, I hit send.