Once upon a time,I taught high school and, in grad school, college math. Then I had
a baby three babies and ended up taking 10 years off with no
thought of ever going back into the classroom. Last spring, I was offered
a teaching position at the very school all three of my children would be
attending. We could go to school/work together every day! Who could ask
for a better situation?
But, I had never taught Middle School math before. I marched confidently into that classroom and ran head-first into Piaget's Concrete Operational Stage. (ouch.) I have struggled wildly this year. I have found myself incredulous A LOT - . How can you be 12 and not know what a radius is? Why would you come to class with no pencil and no notebook? Why can't you just sit still? I tried a lot of different approaches. Some things worked. Mostly things didn't work. And I realized that for me to survive another year, it will have to be completely different so I hit the Interwebs for ideas.
I had a bit of a come-to-Jesus when I read this blog post from a fella named Jonathan. In the midst of his discussion about the relative merits of various graphing apps, he mentions that it has been 12 years since he took pre-Cal and that graphing calculators haven't changed much. Guess what! It's been more than 25 years since I took pre-Cal and graphing calculators had barely been invented, much less used in the classroom! I think I may have taken pre-Cal while (my new friend) Jonathan was stacking blocks to count to 100! So what does this mean for me? It means that I am way behind the curve. I might as well be a brand-new teacher, and - here's the kicker - I don't even have recent learning experience to draw on.
So away we go. This is my adventure in re-inventing my middle school Math classroom. I've got some ideas, and am looking for more. I welcome ALL feed-back - from teachers and learners - it's the only way to get any better. And there are a lot of young folks out there who are doing some seriously good stuff, but I'm going to have to be willing to learn some new tricks. (Flash to an image of me teaching my mother Facebook, and it scares me a bit...) And I'm hoping the young folks will be patient and generous with me, even though I still use vowels when I text.
Me, in Pre-Cal, in 1986.
Johnny Depp, circa 1986, in case you need a reference point for how much things have changed.