3 Takeaways from 2015-2016

It’s hard to believe that the school year is over (thank you, school district, for starting early and ending early).

3 Takeaways from This Year:

  1. Group roles: Many teachers in our district use group roles so that all students have something to contribute and so that no one can or has to do all the work. I actually feel like simplifying the process made it easier to use. Instead of posting roles on chart, I just assigned roles based on which seat students sat in. Less complicated and clearer for students (and me). Most students know their role title (Task Manager, Group Manager). I’d love for them to own those roles and use them to productively move their groups forward.
  2. Belonging in the Classroom: One of my takeaways from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference was students’ mathematical identities and sense of belonging in the classroom. I think our school does a pretty good job of this already, but I’d like to keep thinking about how to, well, think more about this. Look for this. Measure this. This feels especially important since some students feel so scared of mathematics and because some students enter saying they love mathematics and then get scared away by the English.
  3. Standards: I’m pretty sure I say this every year. I feel pretty OK about what we’re teaching, but need to think more about how it relates to and fits with Common Core. Especially for students who struggle and for students who need more of a challenge, looking backwards and forwards in the Standards and Progressions might be the way to go.

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    This is how I’m starting my summer.

Day 176: The One With the Last Day

We see other teachers after graduation. They say they have a potluck at school the next day and no classes to teach. I am grumpy and tell them that we have a 2 hour block, a 1.5 hour assembly and an hour with our advisory.

Admittedly, I love it. (Love is a strong word – I don’t hate it.) Kiddos are grumpy and antsy and complain about having to do work on the last day (though they mostly do it anyway). I make my advisory do our somewhat honored traditional of writing letters to themselves and then writing notes to the rest of the class. I stand at the board and help them spell weird things like what North Americans call the different grade levels and think about how I’ll miss this a little bit in the summertime. 

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“The Mister (that’s me) is going to lock the door and won’t let me back in next year,” says 10th grader Gregorio (probably in Spanish) as class winds down. “He doesn’t want me in class any more.”

“He’s totally right,” I tell the class, deadpan, and move on.

It’s a good thing we’re both lying.

Day 175: The One Where I Stand at the Farmers’ Market

We go to the Farmers’ Market every year for School Without Walls (our 2 week credit recovery class), so the kiddos mostly know the drill. (This is actually my first time on this trip, but SHHH!!!) I stand at the circle in the center of the market and sort of watch kiddos and sort of talk to other chaperones and mostly eat the popcorn that various kiddos offer. Later that night, I’ll stand in the parking lot and watch graduates and their families celebrate graduation. Kind of a nice feeling.

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Day 173: The One With the Letter

Context: School Without Walls is our 2 week elective credit recovery program. I co-taught a course called Bike and Hike. Self-explanatory.

#MTBoS30 is a challenge by Anne Schwartz to post once a day for 30 days. I am catching up (#SorryNotSorry to ChitoAndKGo and AmusingMathias who actually get an email when I post)

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Monday is apparently the day when everyone gets tired of School Without Walls.

We make the kiddos wait a long time, then get on a hot, packed bus.

Domingo does not get on the bus, which I don’t realize until the other teacher texts me.

He shows up on time (a rarity) the next day.

We make him write a letter and basically beg us not to fail him (he needs this class to graduate).

I’m sorry. But I’m not that sorry.

(One of my advisees, who has basically not shown up all of 2nd semester, shows up. We go bouldering. Despite her high heels, the nice people at the bouldering place swap her shoes. One of her friends makes her climb to the top of the bouldering thing. I am so, so pleased.)

Photo: The Letter in Question2016-05-24 17.18.40

Day 171: Confessions of a Field Trip Chaperone

Context: School Without Walls is our 2 week elective credit recovery program where I co-teach a PE class called “Bike and Hike”.

#MTBoS30 challenges the math education writer to write a blog a day for 30 days. Inspired by Anne Schwartz and the Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere (MTBoS)

Confession: Blogs titled “Confessions of…” make me a bit crazy.

Field trips also make me a little crazy.

We go kayaking today (Wednesday) which is both awesome and crazy.

It’s cold and windy at the bus stop. The bus doesn’t come. Everyone says they will refuse to go. “What if we die before the bus gets here?” Thomas 2 asks.

The bus comes.

I worry about getting all 22 kids off at the right stop.

It’s sunny and warm by the water.

We pair them in partners, which mostly works.

We tell students repeatedly to not bring phones and to bring a change of clothes.

Students end up wearing jeans. Students bring their phones into the kayaks.

I am paddling along, checking things out and wondering if this is something I should do more often when I realize that there are Kiddos In the Water.

I paddle over to Tomas and help him get into my kayak.

“Did you fall in?” I ask.

“No, me saltè.” I jumped.

We make Tomas swim over to his partner, then yell at the other 4 kiddos who are now in the water.

At one point, a kiddo makes me hold his phone in my lifejacket. I later drop it, by accident. Into. The. Water.

There is much swearing on my part and the kiddo in question basically checks out for the rest of the trip. I refuse to take pictures out of solidarity for the rest of the day.

Field trips are crazy making.

Favorite quote from a video another teacher made:

Àlvaro: Tengo miedo.

Teacher (off-screen): ¿Por què? (Why?)

Àlvaro: Por que me  puedo ahogar. (Because I might drown)

Àlvaro: Y si me ahogo, mi mamà me va a regañar. (And if I drown, my Mom is going to kill me.)

Photo: Reflection slips that kiddos fill out every morning. (’cause no kayaking photos)

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Day 170: View Within Reach

Context: School Without Walls is our school’s way of helping students to catch up on missing PE and art credits through an intensive 2-week elective course. I am teaching a course “in the style of” Bike and Hike (our instructional coach’s words). We bike and hike a lot, as you would guess.

#MTBoS30 is a challenge started by Anne Schwartz happening in the Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere (MTBoS). You write a blog every day for 30 days. I’ve already missed 4 5 and math content ended for me 2 and a half weeks ago, but anyway…

The class is called “Bike and Hike”, because it’s always been called that. There are between 2 to 4 sections of similar classes with different names.

We spend the morning in a bike workshop. It’s heartening to see that some of our students who struggle most with English and with school are super proficient with bikes.

We spend the afternoon walking. Kiddos are still tired from the previous days. The hill we walk up is close by, but (apparently) steep. Um. Mapquest Google didn’t tell us that.

I hike in front with 2 of the seniors. We talk about dance classes they took and how one of them was a little horror in his country because he knew he was leaving for the United States. Every 5 seconds (it seems), someone asks if we can take the bus instead.

“It’s bike and hike, not bus and hike,” I say. It’s Dad-level humor and no one laughs because they all think they are dying as we keep hiking.

The views of the city are amazing. And less than a mile from school. Some students find a swing and take photos while standing on posts and trying to be taller than they already are. Other students basically remake an Arabic music video. I wonder why no one really ever seems to understand my life at cocktail parties.

Photo: The One Where We Don’t Even Talk About Taking the Bus

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