Monday, August 31, 2009

First Week Observations

One year and one week into my teaching career, there continue to be 10,000 new things that I notice everyday. Just as I want to work on my students' skills around what's important to "notice" in math, I continue to think about the ways that the things I'm noticing are actually serving to improve my practice.

Useful things I've noticed:
-Cooperative learning and inquiry thrives when the content is based in multiple representations (geometric, algebraic, verbal, graphical, situational, etc.). It gives every student an access point and a challenge and which is which varies by individual student rather than status. Now the challenge for me: where can I center instruction around multiple representations in mathematical situations where other representations aren't very meaningful?
-Kids on the Peninsula are different than kids in the East Bay. Can't yet put my finger on how they're different, but there's something happening.
-School-wide policies and support structures (that aren't crazy) mean a lot less work for the individual teacher. Read: I love mandatory study hall that I don't have to organize myself.

Happy, but maybe not super-useful things I've noticed:
-Second year teaching, even in a completely new school, is infinitely easier than first year. If things keep getting easier at the same rate, by Year 5 I'll be able to teach in my sleep.
-Kids are cute no matter where you go.
-I'm pretty into advisory. Maybe not so much for the purposes it was intended for, but because I think my kids are cute and I like hanging out with them.

Things I've noticed that really I already know but have trouble actually putting into practice:
-My summer bedtime and social habits are not conducive to a successful teaching lifestyle.
-Staying at school for 12+ hours a day (plus weekends) is also not conducive to a successful teaching lifestyle. Or any lifestyle, for that matter.


Linda said...

I am glad your kids are cute--you are right that they all are once you get to know them a bit.

I am glad that things are easier but don't count on that dream of teaching in your sleep five years from now. The kids will give you new things to observe and learn for as long as you are around them. That is what keeps them cute.

Advisory is good for getting to know the kids, which helps to slow down surprises, and keeps them cute.

Teachers, or so we are told, only work for a few hours a day and get summers off. If this is true why are we both putting in 12 hour days everyday, including week-ends? Be glad you know other teachers who can empathize with you.


Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I love advisory, too. I think it's a great way to get to know kids better.

I don't think you'll ever be teaching in your sleep because you're just not that kind of teacher.

I'd love to hear more about your observations about coast versus East Bay kids.

My second year was about teaching myself how to teach without 12-hour days. I went in at 5:00 a.m. and generally left at 3:30. Hmmm... come to think of it, 10.5 hour days? Wow, and I thought I'd really improved. See, this is why I don't teach math.

SWE said...

Well, I have an idea of how to begin your "not work for the entire weekend" training. Come meet Daisy! I'm thinking BBQ on Sunday if you (and anyone else for that matter) want to come on down...

Roni said...

My school just cut advisory this year. Everyone's a bit miffed about it. I can see why, but don't really think it'll be that big of a deal. The kids at my school tend to wander in and out of classes at all hours of operation to talk to teachers about what they (the teachers and kids) are doing. The kids here are remarkably more open with adults than those in NZ.