Day -5: Countdown

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We are back. And it is everything you’d think it is and all the feelings you thought it would be. So good to see old colleagues (many of whom I still haven’t quite had the time to talk to. Because: summer and school and theory and room setup and…) and meet new colleagues. We are counting down until the first day of school (next Monday) and there is much to do.

Some of what we do in professional development is thinking big picture stuff about our teaching practices.2016-08-08 10.30.11

Some of what we do is more practical, like plan for our first week and set up rooms (which seems to be never quite done).2016-08-08 16.26.03

What do you notice? What do you wonder?

The One With the Fall Semester Lists

Did I fall off the blog again?

Hard to believe it’s December already. Hard to believe Portfolios have come and gone (though I need to remind myself that fall semester is shorter and goes faster than spring semester).

Photo: State of My Room Before Break

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Note to self: request to get the light in the back corner fixed. This was after I did intense post-portfolio cleaning (but not as much as I usually do).

Fall Semester By The Numbers

I always mean to publish a “by the numbers” (math teacher and all). So here’s where we are:

  • Our team currently teaches 80 students, divided more or less evenly among 4 sections. (In contrast, we had about 60 students between 4 sections at the beginning of the year).
  • Our team teaches students who speak 8 different languages (not counting Mam, an indigenous language from Guatemala, counting “Chinese” rather than “Cantonese” or “Mandarin”, which I’ll be the first to admit is not right, and not counting the Mayan language Tzetal or Portuguese, as the students who speak these languages also speak Spanish)
  • My advisory is currently 16 students, including 2 students who came during our last week of portfolios. I started with 12 and lost 2 during the year (one transferred, one dropped out).

This Break

I like to tell people who ask that I am planning to spend this break being a real, live adult.

Current plans include:

  • Plug drafts in the apartment (somewhat successful; rain two days ago meant the temperature in general was warmer…darn you, confounding variables!)
  • Read through Common Core Progressions. The Common Core Progressions tell you what you should learn K-high school in Common Core. A big take-away from a recent conference is that when students struggle or have gaps in their learning, looking back at the progressions should help you fill in the gaps. Pretty obvious in retrospect, but it was good to hear.
  • Write a couple grants for materials and professional development (NCTM, chromebooks and Cantonese conversation classes through City College)
  • Read. Goal is 3 books, but I’ll be lucky to get through the one I have to give my mom for Christmas on Friday.
  • I am planning to go back and at least post a picture and a sentence for every day this year. We’ll see how this goes.

Day -5: The One Where We’re Baaaaack

First day back for teachers was yesterday. Full day of meetings, including teambuilding, icebreaking, snorting (see teambuilding), looking at cohorts of students for next year and planning for the first week. Good energy, as always.

Photo: My Room

Desks and TablesA fun (amazing) thing that our district does is power clean the floors over the summer. As a result, they move all the furniture out and then back in (after cleaning). Some incredibly well-meaning person put all the trapezoidal tables in my room in pairs, just like the rest of the classrooms in our school.

Except…I use the rectangular tables. Which means that I spent most of my room prep time (admittedly, only about 15 minutes) loudly dragging around tables.

This is not to complain at all; more to publicly remind myself to actually put the team roles (Task Manager, Group Manager, Communications Manager, Resource Manager) on the table so that I know which student is which role and can actually use them.

Photo: Meaningful Professional Development

Low Stakes Writing in My LanguageThis feels like cheating since it’s not something that I constructed, but rather part of a full staff exercise. We spent a large chunk of time talking in small groups about ways to differentiate instruction, which is a HUGE focus at our school. We read about, talked about, and wrote about different aspects of how to differentiate instruction for heterogenous groups. Say you’ve got a classroom where the students enter at different ability levels (which is true for all schools and extremely true for our school). What do you do to reach all students?

(This poster was about how to have students do low-stakes, low-barrier-to-entry writing in ML – my language. No grades, no grammar, just write.)