Tag Archives: reflection

#MTBoS30 (ish): Teacher Appreciation Day

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Today I got a phone call from the US Department of Education thanking me for my teaching. One of my best teacher friends nominated me for their teacher appreciation, isn’t that super nice? So I thought I’d join the #MTBoS30 and show appreciation for some very special teachers.

Ms Smith, who taught me Honors Precal and never got mad no matter how many times she had to say, “Meghan, turn around.” Not only that, but she also accepted my invitation to participate in the teacher portion of our local FFA livestock show, which meant she had to pretend to guide my pig around in the ring for ten minutes. Ask yourself: are you that dedicated to student relationships? Also, I need to buy a plant for my room and have it get kind of droopy, then when the kids get some bad test scores, pretend to “just notice” that the plant needs some water and care and attention, but then it will spring back. Talk about a pro move.

Dr Foreman, my Cal I (and many other classes) prof, or I like to say, The Reason I Became a Math Teacher.  Even though I had already had Cal BC in high school (but didn’t take the AP test), it was like I was learning calculus for the first time, or should I say, understanding calculus for the first time. He was also my adviser and just a general all-around great person. He had the best deadpan delivery of anyone I’ve ever known; I try to imitate it but never quite pull it off (the trick is to keep on going like you didn’t even make a joke and wait for the laughs to come 20 seconds later). This is how nice he was: his daughter attended the high school where I first taught and he told her to say hello to me on the first day so I would know a friendly face. How sad for his life to be cut short by cancer, but he definitely touched many students’ lives during his career.

Dr Atkinson, my other math prof, who LOVED math. And always (like I tend to do) got super excited at that moment in a middle of a proof when you realize HOLY COW GUYS THIS IS GOING TO WORK OUT (even if you’ve already done the proof 10 times before). He was also so patient during his office hours; I wish I had that kind of patience when someone asks me how to multiply matrices for 168th time.

Susan S, with whom I taught with for multiple years but not long enough before she retired. She had taught everything under the sun and could explain anything to anyone without making you feel dumb. She taught me how to graph functions! She was also great about determining This Is Important versus This Is Required. She was such a good teacher that every time you mention her name, someone in the room will always say, “Oh, I miss Susan.”

Suzanne C, my classroom neighbor and friend. You know the whole “teach people math” versus “teach math to people” thing? Suzanne has got that down. She is always making connections to kids that some people think are unreachable and teaching kids that some people think are unteachable.  In her crazy way she is always an ever-present reminder of putting kids first.

Beth R, my school BFF.  What would I do without her? (Answer: Quit. Seriously, I was debating a job change recently and one of the major cons was “no Beth.”) She has taken on AP Cal all by her herself and rocked it. She is great to collaborate with or just bounce ideas off of. Her students know they’re going to work and learn in her class but it will also be enjoyable. Oh, and yes, we are so on the same wavelength that we once wore the exact same outfit on back-to-school PD day.  Also, if you have a super-rough day at school, she will bring you a bagel the next day. I mean, you can’t ask for more than that from a friend, can you?

My fellow MTBoS teachers…this post is already too long without going into why I appreciate all of you, but I hope you already know I do.

Thanks to all of these teachers for being so awesome.

Desmos, Giving up Control, & Pretty Happy Things

Mishmash of stuff going through my mind this week:

Desmos Function Carnival

Confession: I had not been to the computer lab at school for 10 years because the last time I went nothing worked.  The second day of school is normally picture day, so I  thought I might venture into the lab again, since it was already a wasted day.  (Of course, they rescheduled picture day.) I tried out the Function Carnival with PreAP Precal and Algebra II w/ Trig.  I think both classes had much success and enjoyed it as a nice way to ease back into math. I have 52 minute classes and some finished with 15 minutes left, many with 5-10 minutes left, and a few were working until the bell.  Since we ran out of time for class reflection, I wish I had made a worksheet (or google form) for them to do about what they noticed/wondered and, maybe for Precal, describing what type of graphs they had seen.  If you’re trying it for the first time, I would definitely recommend having a tablet device of some kind.  I brought in my own iPad, so I could use the teacher dashboard and monitor as I went to talk to kids.  Once they got to the final screen, I could also quickly check their graphs and have them work on ones that could be better (or congratulate them for being very precise).  I think this Friday (the for-real picture day) I will be trying another one–maybe the penny lab?

Giving Up Control

I’ve been tweeting with the group work guru herself, Ms. @CheesemonkeySF, about doing talking points tomorrow.  I asked if I should monitor the “NO COMMENT” rule and she replied:

Capture SF

She went on to say, “So many…don’t delegate this authority and, as a result, they don’t actually gain the benefits of the group work they believe they are using.  If you want kids to go deep you have to set up a structure in which to trust them.  And you can’t test trust cautiously!”

AAHHH.  But it’s scary to give up my authority.  I like feeling like I’m shepherding these little lost sheep to safety.  I don’t know if I can trust them because I’ve been both surprised and disappointed at what they can do when left to their own devices. What if they just stand out in the rain with their mouths open and drown?  And if they can be trusted, how does that change my role as their teacher?

Also going through my mind is a tweet from this week about how we need to build relationships with our students so that they will do anything we ask just to please us (or something to that effect, maybe it was walk through fire just because we asked?).  I do not have this type of relationship with my students.  Yes, most of them come in and do their work and I don’t have many behavior issues, but I don’t see this ever happening in my class.

Is that ok?  If it’s not ok, what can I do to change it? Is there some code word like “BaaRamEwe” I need to use like Babe?

Pretty Happy Things

Man, things are getting a bit deep around here.  Let’s look at some pretty things for Made4Math.  Some of you may have seen my notebook at TMC14:

02-party binderI made it using my Silhouette machine.  It’s like a Cricut, but instead of using cartridges you design things using its software.  That means it can cut ANY font, and a lot of other cool stuff, too.  If your school/district has a teacher resource center, you may want to talk them into buying one.  It can cut paper, cardstock, vinyl, heat transfer, stickers, all sorts of things.  For the notebook, I cut it out of pink vinyl and applied it to a black notebook.  Some other people wanted to get in on the action, here is Susan Craig’s (no relation)

Capture nb

BTW, how can you nicely insert tweets into posts, besides this horrible attempt at screenshotting?

I also have this one from last year:

03-FNL binderAnd as a special offer for reading this far, I will send a notebook-size (or clipboard-sized) vinyl cutout to the first three (3) people to leave a comment.  You can choose from above (I also have “Whenever I’m sad, I stop being sad and start being awesome instead.”) or if you have a favorite quote, I would be glad to make a new one!

Inspired by my FNL notebook, let’s end this post with a little Coach Taylor motivation:

Listen to me. I said you need to strive to be better than everybody else. I didn’t say you need to be better, but you gotta try. That’s what character is. It’s in the trying.