So here I am part of the new blogger initiation that @samjshah proposed a couple weeks ago. I feel like I couldn't have started blogging or have found the mathtwitterblogosphere at a better time...funny how things work out like that.
There were quite a few prompts for our week 1 initiation, but I decided to go with a goal oriented one since school will be starting up again very very soon. Taking a page out of some of the other bloggers books I am sharing my "Start - Stop - Continue" for this school year.
Earlier this summer I came across Amy Gruen's green pen idea and I loved it. I like the idea of students who finish early being able to check the work of their peers and I'm thinking that students are going to enjoy being the "green work checker" person. I also really like this because it frees me up a little and another one of my goals for this year is to stop doing so much work!
This green pen idea also works well with something else I want to "start" (aka do more of) this year and that is student collaboration. To be honest I get scared to let students work together because a noisy classroom makes me anxious (my first year teaching one of my colleagues made quite a few comments to me about how loud my classroom was and I think it has given me a complex since then...way to help out the first year teacher!) and I also don't want the time to be a waste where a lot of students are off task. I am learning that I kind of have to just let it go and that sometimes my classroom will be loud, but that it's ok because that noise could be GOOD noise and could be awesome collaboration between students.
At my school we have a modified block schedule (Mondays, Thursdays and Friday are 8 period days and Tuesdays and Wednesdays are block period days) and I always try to give my students a break at some point during the block periods. Again with all of my pinning, researching and blog reading over the summer (this should count as PD right?!?) I found another great idea that I want to incorporate - BRAIN BREAKS!! I used to just let the kids relax and talk for like 5 minutes, but I think this sounds like a lot more fun and I think the kids will have fun with these different activities.
So, I've already talked a little bit about some of the things I am going to stop doing...doing so much work myself and relaxing more often in the classroom (this is REALLY hard when you're as OCD as I am). By the end of the day I am usually sooooo exhausted and I really need to work on letting the kids do more and take more ownership of their learning. I think I have had a problem doing this because I like order, I like things a certain way and change brings me great anxiety (no joke, my usual grocery store was rearranging aisles yesterday and I felt like I was on the verge of an anxiety attack...don't they know that I have the aisles memorized and I know exactly where the things I usually buy are located and therefore I write up my list in order of aisles???).
You're probably wondering how on EARTH I can be a teacher since we have to be so flexible so much of the time. It's crazy, but I am ok with being flexible in the classroom and having to change plans on a whim and fixing a lesson that is going terribly wrong on the fly, etc. My problem is usually things like not having a special bell schedule ahead of time or getting a new student without warning or something like that...I guess I just like to be able to be prepared. I need to have certain information in order to plan ahead of time, but if plans need to be changed without notice I can handle it...weird I know.
I like the way my absent student and homework systems work so those are both things I am going to continue doing. Jennifer (@4mulafun) from liveteachcreate gave me a great suggestion about managing late homework that I think I am going to try this year as well.
My "do now" (aka warm-up/starter problems) have also been a part of class that I think is working well and that I like. I like that my students know that they are expected to get right to work as soon as they get to class and that they start getting their math brains working right away. I also really love this as a formative assessment so that I can see what students retained from the last class or gauge how much they already know about a new topic.
And finally I want to continue blogging and interacting with this awesome group of people!! It is really impressive to see so many people that love math, love teaching and are just trying to become the best they can for their students. Out of all of my "starts" and "continues" I think this will probably be the hardest. I can see how easy it would be to kind of "fall off" once school starts and I end up crazy busy during the school year planning and correcting and teaching (also, did I mention planning a wedding?!?). Sometimes I don't know how I'm going to do it all this year...BUT I do feel like the more I have to do the more I get accomplished, soooo I'm definitely going to try. I think Made 4 Math Mondays and My Favorite Fridays will at least help keeping me blogging on a weekly basis and keep me accountable. Feel free to call me out if you see me slipping!! :)