Day in the Life: February 24, 2017 (Post #8)

I’ve decided to chronicle this school year through my blog. It’s part of Tina Cardone’s Day in the Life book project. This is the eighth post in the series.

5:45am | Rise and shine. This is fourth consecutive Day in the Life post that is not a teaching day for me. The New York City Public Schools are on midwinter break this week. Traditionally public schools in US have two weeks for winter recess for Christmas and New Years. Instead, we only get one week and get the other week off in February. I love it.

I make coffee and read. Right now I’m in the middle of How to Bake Pi by Eugenia Cheng and Strength in Numbers by Illana Siedal Horn. I read some of the latter and sip my coffee for about half an hour and then hang out with the family for a while and eat. I also begin drafting this post.

8:30am | Today I have my Renewal Master Teacher interview with Math for America. It’s scheduled for 10:40am, so I get ready to leave. Am I nervous? A little. But my experiences with MfA have been so uplifting these last four years that I would say I’m far more excited than nervous. I have a lot to share. More on this later.

I shower and I’m out the door just before 9.

9:15am | I’m on the 5 train. I tap out more of this post on my phone and read more of Strength in Numbers.

After a few minor delays, I arrive at Union Square at 10:10. I have enough time to grab a muffin and apple from the farmer’s market and do some people watching for the next 20 minutes. I walk down the MfA offices for my interview. I don’t wait long. After a minute or two I’m called in.

11:10am | I walk out of the interview feeling pretty good about how things went, but you never know. It was really laid back. More like a conversation than an interview.

I’m meeting with another MfA teacher to map out an upcoming workshop we’re running next week. We meet up at the City Bakery and talk. We wrap up around 12:15pm and I head out to grab some lunch in the area. I get a salad from Chop’t and lounge at Union Square. The weather is stunning, 70 degrees with plenty sun. A total gem. After soaking up some rays and watching some skateboarders attempt trick after trick, I head to the train.

1:00pm | I’m on the 4 train headed uptown, back home. I brought both books with me, and I’m feeling rather mathy on the ride home, so I crack open Eugenia Cheng.

1:45pm | I’m back in the ‘hood. I run a couple of errands. I want to simply be outside for the remainder of the afternoon because it’s so nice, but I have to get some work done today so I meander back home.

3:15pm | This school year I’ve been putting off work on my National Board Certification Component 2 submission. Now that the MfA renewal is officially complete and out of my mind, I want to channel a lot of energy towards prepping and completing the submission. It’s a beast and it’s going to need my full attention to tackle.

I decided early in the year that I wanted to showcase my deserted island activity for it, but yesterday realized that I wanted to use some of my intro and graphing logarithms material for the submission. Well, after a solid hour and forty-five minutes of deep thinking, I’m still unsure about the route I want to take. Mind you I haven’t even begin writing up the 10+ pages that the submission requires…I’m still deciding on the activities. It’s due May 17. Pray for me.

Despite sitting in front of my computer for all that time more confused than ever, I do manage to make it back outside for more fun in the sun. Family time. The best time.

9:00pm | I’m in the middle of watching the Raptors and Celtics on ESPN and can’t seem to keep my eyes open. Off to bed I go.

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?

I am concerned about my NBCT submission. I would have really liked to have my two required activities pinned down by this point in the year, but I don’t. With that said, I know how I think. I’m a slow, grind-it-out sort of person. Things don’t usually hit me in a flash. So although I didn’t walk away with the answer today, I know that my time investment brought me closer to finding it.

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?

To close the first semester at the beginning of this month, I had my students complete a “report card” for my teaching. I asked many questions and there were different trends in every class, but one commonality was their dissatisfaction with how I pace the course. I got the same feedback last year.

I say that to say that I came to the realization that I must slow down. Moreover, I realized that, as is, I’m not going to finish the algebra 2 curriculum. It’s not realistic. This is a result of me adapting to the new set of standards and confusing myself along the way. Needless to say, Its been a rough go.

Anyhow, my students need exposure to the entire curriculum for the Regents exam. My solution to this dilemma is to organize video lessons for my students to watch that will introduce the material that we won’t cover in class. The students will watch the videos at the own leisure outside of our regular lessons. This is very disappointing – especially because the videos will cover of the entire statistics and probability units.

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.

This relational moment doesn’t pertain to any specific person. Rather, it’s about an organization – Math for America.

It’s remarkable just how different of a teacher I am after four years being given a MfA fellowship. My relationship with MfA has grown from one of deep admiration and respect to one of deep trust and responsibility. Summarizing four years worth of immense growth into a thirty-minute interview today wasn’t possible, but I hope the interviewers got a sense of my deep-seeded gratitude for how MfA’s impact on my career. I’ve been mindful of giving back to the community these last four years – beyond merely facilitating workshops and completing surveys. It’s the absolute least I can do for all that they’ve given me and my career.

There was interesting moment during the interview. I mentioned that I felt somewhat guilty applying for renewal because even if I wasn’t picked up for renewal, I would still take advantage of the MfA community by means of the Emeritus program – which doesn’t include the stipend. I’m certain that there are teachers new to MfA that would only be interested in applying and joining the community because of the stipend. In this way, I expressed that I openly accept not being offered a Renewal Mater Teacher fellowship. In fact, I questioned whether I should even apply for the fellowship in order to make space for someone new who otherwise might not get the opportunity.

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?

In my last DITL post I was disappointed at how little I was integrating instructional routines into my teaching, one of my big goals for this year. I’m proud of the fact that since then I have pushed myself to use at least one instructional routine in all of my classes…with more on the way. Things have slowed down at school and as a result I’ve been able to process the curriculum in a more structural way. I must keep at it.

5. What else happened this month that you would like to share?

In order to help bring a much-needed culture of mathematics to my school, I’m pumped about starting an after school math club. I surveyed my students and there is definite interest. I even attended a workshop to help me get it started. My hope is to have some initial meetings before the close of the school year. Worst case, I get things off the ground next year. Either way, I took concrete steps this month to make it a reality.

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