5:30am | I wake up. I rode the Tour de Bronx yesterday, so I’m somewhat sore. To add to the that, on my way back home from the ride I had a pretty nice spill over my handlebars avoiding a young boy in a crosswalk. It could have been worse, especially for the boy. Thankfully, I just have some minor dings.
I have breakfast, read a bit, and I’m out the door.
6:55am | About halfway to school I hear a dreadful sound….pisssssss. A flat tire. I don’t have a pump or any tubes with me so I hail an Uber back home to drop off my bike. Unfortunately, I still haven’t replaced the front wheel on my other bike that got damaged by a careless driver, so I’m forced to take public transportation. Rushed and flustered, I arrive at school at 7:55am. I spend the few minutes I have before first period prepping the lesson on introducing inverse functions.
8:12am | First period. The lesson on inverse functions is mediocre at best. I adapt Bob Lochel’s approach, but the kids struggle to make the connection between the coordinate pairs of inverse functions. The class is composed of seniors who aren’t particularly in love with math, so my struggles with them are compounded. I still haven’t figured this class out. This is their second year in algebra 2 (by design), so some of them immediately begin using the procedure for finding the inverse of a function (interchange x and y and solve for y).
9:00am | On top of a crazy, upside-down morning, I have a coverage 2nd period for a teacher that is absent today. It’s a good group of kids, but it eats up one of my preps which I definitely need on a day like today to catch up. I recognize many students from the class and realize that I actually know students now.
10:00am | Finally back in my room for a period to sit and work. I tweak my intro to inverse functions from first period for period 4 and prep my lessons for periods 5 and 8. I send out a couple of emails, one of which is a letter of reference for student at my previous school.
10:40am | My period 4 students walk in. I do my best to give high-fives on entry. It really does have a positive impact on the start of class. They’re also investigating what it means for two functions to be inverses of one another. The lesson goes slightly better than with 1st period, but the students still have trouble discovering the relationship between the domain and range of inverse functions. I am forced to walk them through the tail end of the lesson.
On a semi-unrelated note, I also realize at the end of the period that the homework questions this year haven’t been fully aligned with the lesson. This explains a lot.
11:27am | Period 5. This group is one day ahead of my other class, so today we’re focused on the algorithm to find the inverse of a function (interchange x and y and solve for y). Things go smoothly. The students spend over half of the period in groups working collaboratively. The energy in the room is great, the conversation is engaging, and the time flies…and as all this is happening, I realize that this sort of what I hoped for group work this year. But this is one of the few times (like 3) that it’s actually happened. Before today, if students are working in groups, it’s usually for a couple of minutes and then we come back together as a whole group. I must structure more time where students are working without me.
12:15pm | This is “lunch,” whatever that means. I spend most of the time prepping for my periods 7 and 8, meeting with a co-teacher, and making copies. The day is a blur. I take a couple bites of a sandwich just before the bell rings.
1:03pm | Period 7 is retaking a checkpoint (i.e. exam) from last week. The period is low-key. I spend some time at the beginning and end of the period connecting with one of the more challenging students. I sit next to her and chat. She’s an awesome young lady with loads of energy…and she’s growing on me. After this period, I can sense the day getting better.
1:53pm | I welcome my lone group of freshman to period 9 algebra. A great group. We’re studying linear equations. Due to a lack of common planning, my co-teacher and I haven’t really ironed out the details of the lesson…and it shows. The goal was to have students identify the series of operations performed on the variable and then use this to discover the series of inverse operations that would need to be performed to “reverse” those operations. Let’s just say a second day is needed.
2:40pm | Faculty meeting. We meet as an entire faculty and then break off into co-planning teams. My co-teacher also teaches with two other members of the math team, so it’s all over the place. We talk moving some ninth graders around and also some structures for tracking understanding. A colleague mentions how he has one or two “focus” questions for his daily homework check. He takes note of which students get it and don’t by means of his formative assessment and uses this info for intervention purposes. I love this and make a note to start doing it in some form. I manage to spend some time structuring the parallel teaching that we hope to begin implementing later in the week. We hope it turns into somewhat of the norm.
4:00pm | Grades for the marking period are due this week, so continue the process of finalizing those for around 30 minutes. I targeted some kids a few weeks ago as in danger of failing and I’m please that many of them are not going to fail due to some tutoring that I did with them.
4:30pm | I get word that there’s a girls volleyball game, so I head down the gym to end this stressful day on a high note. It doesn’t disappoint. I don’t any of the girls on the team, but I love attending school sporting events. I have great conversation with a few students (one of which is mine) selling goodies at the game as well as the drama teacher who also attended. She’s also in her first year at the school.
5:15pm | I’m too lazy to catch a bus, so I hail another Uber back home. My bike has spoiled me.
I’m still backed up from the day, so I spend about a half-hour on some planning when I arrive home. I do everything I can to stay away from work on weekday evenings, but today was one of those rare occasions where it was absolutely necessary. I’m exhausted and get to bed around 9:30.
1.Teachers make a lot of decisions throughout the day. Sometimes we make so many it feels overwhelming. When you think about today, what is a decision/teacher move you made that you are proud of? What is one you are worried wasn’t ideal?
My hope was to have students more or less stumble upon the relationship between inverse functions. The planning was there. What ended up happening in large part was me forcing this discovery by telling students what they should have found out themselves. Their learning didn’t come naturally. Should I have left them to struggle? How could I have made the activity better align to my goal?
2. Every person’s life is full of highs and lows. Share with us some of what that is like for a teacher. What are you looking forward to? What has been a challenge for you lately?
My days this year have been so long…and grueling. I don’t think I’ve had days this taxing since my first year of teaching. Seriously. I find myself constantly planning to keep my head above water and my classroom routines are essentially nonexistent.
My students are AWESOME and they are very capable of amazing things. But right now, in many ways, I’m holding them back.
3. We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is. As teachers we work to build relationships with our coworkers and students. Describe a relational moment you had with someone recently.
The after school interactions at the volleyball game were truly a breath of fresh air. For some reason, I feel I’ll always remember these moments that I spent with the students. They were laid back, natural, and just what I needed.
4. Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year. What is a goal you have for the year?
Goals? Today marked the close of the first marking period and work towards my goals has been fairly minimal thus far. Most of my energy so far this year has been dedicated to establishing standards-based grading with students who are accustomed to traditional means of assessment. This has been exhausting. But this has help me improve my SBG structure to better reflect student learning…I think. More on this later.
5. What else happened this month that you would like to share?
It’s almost November. Wow.