Year in Review: 2015

I always find it a bit odd reflecting at the end of a calendar year. My real year runs from September to June. That’s how I’m trained. Nonetheless, here are some reflections from my 2015.

Professional Development

  •  I helped facilitate an Arduino PLT with MfA in the spring. Although I helped lead the group, I was truly learning as I went. It was an uplifting testimony to being a novice that’s willing to bring knowledgeable folks together for the greater good.
  • The spring introduced me to Video Clubs and the fall allowed me to bring this rich experience to the math department at my school. I eagerly await to see where this goes. I even got invited to speak at a conference! Of all people, me!
  • The Research Experience for Teachers (RET) with NYU provided the platform to develop and learn through actual, hands-on research. I’ll never again look at human hair or cement the same way. I even got to use an electron microscope. Talk about a wow experience.
  • The Learning Partners Program helped me in unpredictable ways. I was expecting intervisitations, but the experience proved to be far more comprehensive. Some of the resulting transparency caused pain, but in a healthy way.
  • I was about my colleagues. Our relationships got stronger, more interdependent. I thrusted myself into a leadership role and invested in their success. I wanted my opportunities to become their opportunities.
  • I took up juggling. It’s not directly related to my professional growth, but I think it’s pretty cool. Plus, it’s fairly therapeutic, which helped me grow. I’m looking forward dwelving into the mathematics of juggling, which will be fun.
  • I read, and enjoyed reading, more than ever.


  • I began assessing my students by means of standards-based grading and then improved it. I should’ve began this a long, long time ago.
  • It seems simple, but exit slips played a significant role in my class for the first time. And, in general, assessment was a running theme for me all year.
  • I once held the belief that if I don’t grade an assignment, the kids wouldn’t do it. I learned that it’s more about the classroom culture and growth mindset that make kids want to (or not want to) work.
  • I wrote to my students more than ever. And loved it.
  • I incorporated writing and discussion techniques regularly. I also thought about my questioning in more sophisticated ways. Simply put, I learned to value these worthwhile activities.
  • After years of waiting for the opportunity, I was able to kickstart an after-school bicycle club in 2015.
  • I realized that I now look at every day, every class period, differently. In fact, I feel different about teaching. I’m more aware, more dedicated, more creative. My perspective matured greatly in 2015. This has pushed me to capitalize on moments with students and colleagues like never before.

This was my first full calendar year maintaining a blog. Is it a coincidence that 2015 was such a game changer for my career?


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