First Day — Can’t Wait! #SundayFunday

It’s two weeks until my first day with learners (yes @gwaddellnvhs, I am trying to change my vocabulary!).  I have a lot of work to do (every surface is covered with shopping bags right now), but I’m still excited to get started with LEARNING.  School (for young people) begins on Thursday the 24th with shortened periods for freshmen only.

As they arrive, they’ll find supply lists and a few other hints (like activity listings and lunch schedules) on the desks along with copies of a quiz about me suggested by Sarah Carter @mathequalslove in her blog post 21 Ideas.  I changed it up a bit by making it all multiple choice and number answers.  Here’s my draft as of today.  I tried to use questions that would tell them a little about me.  I am still debating whether a google form would be more efficient, but I’m leaning toward paper to minimize the time I need to answer their questions later.  I’ll encourage them to start this right away.

As quizzes are finished, I will pass out the Noah’s Ark problem from Fawn Nguyen @fawnpnguyen.  Working in groups on this day gives me an idea of their personalities BEFORE we add in the upperclassmen and the drama that brings. We’ll begin with noticing and wondering and go from there.  I hope that we’ll gather to share some hints and tips at the end of the period to continue the problem in the future.

I feel pretty good about that plan for Algebra 1.  The week after that will bring name tents and lots of problem solving and group work.  Right now, I’m headed home from M cubed (our version of #TMC17 in Montana).  I’ll play some golf tomorrow and then head to school to do some more planning on Monday!  Class of 2021 here we come.



Goals 2017-18

While I am a little late for the #SundayFunday theme of Goals, it nonetheless seems important to state my goals for the next school year.

#1  Build community, relationships and healing in my classroom.

During her morning workshop at #TMC17, @cheesemonkeysf said, “It is not our job to fix students, but to heal their mathematical disconnect.”  I was blown away.  I’m pretty sure I’ve wondered how to “fix” a number of kids over the years.  It struck me that I really need to think about my attitude toward the learners with who I come into contact each day.  How do I inspire them?  How do I encourage them to make mistakes?  How do we grow together?  How does my classroom become an instrument of healing?

#2   Reflect.

During the spring semester I had the opportunity to think a lot about my own teaching while watching others teach.  It was a rare privilege to have that time, but it made me want more.  I am hoping to use this blog to do some of that reflecting.  The rest of the time, I am going to try to make more time to reflect with my colleagues on good teaching practices and becoming the educators we were meant to be.

#3  Implement more Rich Tasks and less factory work

I just finished reading Mathmatical Mindsets by Jo Boaler.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  The tagline says a lot:  Unleashing Students Potential through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching.  Part of my curricula is filled with great places to make discoveries and be inspired and part, well, let’s just say, even I’m bored.  I hope this year to take advantage of all the fabulous resources out there and implement even a few more amazing tasks with a low floor and high ceiling.

#4  Allow Myself Space to Mess Up

My dad laughs at me when I yell at the TV when a player makes a terrible play.  I say, “but he’s supposed to be a professional!”  My dad simply shakes his head and says, “well, so are you.”  If I am going to encourage mistakes as growth opportunities in my student, I probably should do it with myself too.  I may not accomplish any of the things on this goal list this year, but that’s okay… at least my mistakes don’t show up on a highlight reel on national television 🙂

Breaking the Blog Jam

For the past year, my colleague Tony Riehl (@riehlt and has been encouraging me to blog, but…  Well, to be honest, I had a lot of excuses.  What will I write?  What will I say?  Who would want to read this anyway?  Essentially, I was allowing all my excuses to become a “blog jam” of sorts.  So, today, the excuses need to go away.

During Twitter Math Camp 17 (#TMC17) in Atlanta, Carl Oliver (@carloliwitter) encouraged us to #pushsend on our success and failure.  Reflecting on his keynote, I decided my blog would capture moments from which to learn or to celebrate.  I want to look for significant (not by random chance, #statschat) evidence of growth in my teaching and life.

When I think back to the spring, I had lots of interesting growth topics I wanted to talk about.  Every time I sat down at lunch with colleagues, I pushed them to debate grading and methodology and review and feedback.  While they were kind to me, I’m guessing they were more interested in getting back to their food than discussing feedback.  So, in the spirit of collegial relationships, I will reflect more here and laugh a little more during lunch.  It’s time to break the blog jam and jam on this blog!