Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ten Good Things

Inspired by Meg and Matt,  I'm listing ten things I do better than I did before. I teach middle school math, and ...

1) For the most part, my kids are not afraid to make mistakes. I've done "first best answer," and I ask for volunteers who know they got it wrong so we can help.  I also make a big deal about never allowing anyone to say "this is easy" since it isn't easy for everyone... but mostly I just say "it's you on a deserted island and this question is your ticket off - you've got to make a guess so give it a shot!"  and I wait. Which leads to #2

2) I can wait for a long time. "Take a minute and look it up," I might say. "Put your hands down; I'm glad you know it but I'm worried that he doesn't," I often say to everyone else. 

3) I use big words. We have the option to create passcodes for online tests and I use an SAT prep website to come up with words. So I'll say "the passcode for the practice test is 'grimace;' do you know what 'grimace' means?" The best is when I overhear a kid using a word I used with them. Even if they already knew the word, i like to think I'm reminding them to sprinkle more variety into their conversations. 

4) My kids move a lot. Ok, maybe not "a lot" - it's so objective- but certainly more than we moved when I was in school. Sometimes it's as simple as "stand up if you disagree" and sometimes we even tuck out the back door and take a lap around the track.  I have really taken to heart everything's that's being written about how exhausting it is to just sit all day and I just want these guys to have a chance to wiggle. 

5) I'm not afraid to try new things. In fact, I'll try just about anything my principal asks me to. I respect her that much, and I know I'm green enough to need suggestions. 

6)  my kids ask questions. Sometimes good questions, sometimes less good questions, sometimes silly questios, and sometimes it's an affirmation-seeking-statement-but-in-question-form question.  But I get a lot of questions. Which is good because ...

7) I'm down with letting student questions guide the lesson. If I want to cover a topic, and I want to be sure to cover points A, B, and C, I'm fine if something about A prompts a student to ask about C or D. I'll throw up that example and eventually work my way back to B - if none of the students bring it up, that is. I'm pleased with my ability to think on my feet so I don't get thrown by a question that deviates from the scripted order.

8) I try to do as much hands-on and real-world activities as I can. Multiple entry points, higher-order thinking, higher level of engagement, and a chance to do something besides sit and write. I prefer it as much as they do. 

9) we write. Sometimes it's just a sentence about the bell-ringer graph, estimation, etc. sometimes it's a longer reflection on an activity we did in class. And I count off for crappy grammar or spelling whenever it's something they have time and opportunity to edit. Because math isn't an isolated subject AND they should be expected to be articulate outside of English class.


10) I don't suck. I have seven preps in an eight period day and I'm surviving. Could I be better? Sure! Could it be easier? Sure! Could I be eating better, sleeping more, or exercising at all? Absolutely! But I'm not completely drowning (most days) and I will make it to May.