Well, I’m not gone yet, just very very busy.
I also think I’ll start adding new things, especially during the school year. For example, here’s something I would like to do more of . . . Scenes from the School.
Scene from last night’s school dance.
Mr. Cates, our music teacher on the mic: Okay, here’s a classic to dance to!
(Starts playing “Eye of the Tiger)
(My 5th grade Students start running over to me)
Students: You need to dance to this, it’s a classic!!!
Me: Wait, I have to dance to this because “it’s a classic?” So when you think “classic” you immediately think of me?!
Me: Is this because I’m old?
(Students start laughing)
I’ll exit stage left now.
Okay, so consistency has never been something I’ve done on this site for, well, a consistent period of time. But that doesn’t mean I give up on it!
Anyway, here’s a few new photos to keep you interested (at least I hope) in the site. I may, or may not be doing something more with photography soon. I’m also still going to use this site to talk education as well, especially here in Nevada . . . and especially in light of all the recent news that has been happening. News like “rankings” and Bills for spending more on education and the like.
Again, I’m on Instagram if you’d like to see more or on 500px. Again, I may just keep this blog for education and general information while I may start another primarily for photography. We’ll see though!
So on Mondays, I figured to keep the post to some educational items, especially if I can reflect on some of the goals I set for last week. Just to recap:
1) Become a visual math teacher!
2) More concepts, less procedural!
3) Patience and Consistency
I will say that today, during the Math period, I definitely addressed the idea of “conceptual” and “procedural.” However, I believe I’ll continue doing that throughout the course of the school year.
I’ll also say that today was rather fun. I was working off of 3 – 4 hours of sleep so maybe that had something to do with my desperate and wandering style today. One student even asked “Mr. D, are you talking to yourself?” Anyway, this was, perhaps, the best the class has been since we started school. I enjoyed myself immensely in the classroom today and it definitely rubbed off on the kiddos as well.
I think for this week, especially during the Math period, I’ll continue with the conceptual and procedural discussion with the students.
Or force myself to sleep only 3 – 4 hours a day. That’s sure to work out better . . .
One place I’m finding myself going to more and more is illustrativemathematics.org. If you’re looking for a decent Common Core (still don’t know what to think about the Common Core sometimes. I’ll save this for a later post) resource for Math, I definitely like this one.
I’m starting to think along the lines of organizing my posts according to the days of the week. Mondays can be reserved for work-related, educational posts (with maybe a Friday thrown in for reflection on said posts). I’m also thinking Fridays can be used to post some of my favorites things, a “Friday Favorites” so to speak. A part of that will also be some of the pictures I’ve taken, but I may do something else with those.
Wednesdays can be reserved for things I’ve been watching on television, in the theaters, or reading in the media. For example, I could talk about the new Doctor Who (which I’ve done before) or perhaps Agents of Shield as well (which I have also done before).
Or I can review some sports related items I’ve watched (I do like sports!).
For today, I think I’ll start this “Watchful Wednesday” with something I did watch today (at least technically).
The lunar eclipse, aka the “Blood Moon.”
Yes, it was cold. Yes, it threw my sleep pattern a bit of a curve . . . but it was interesting to watch and photograph.
It also got me thinking about something I had said in class the other day, when I had the students imagine for themselves, ways to explain natural phenomena without the use of research or the scientific method (to a certain degree). Some of the responses they gave were along the lines of storytelling, which the students thought was an interesting way to explain things (stories are usually explanations anyway, are they not?). We were reading about earthquakes and volcanoes and how the ancient Romans and Hawaiians had explained volcanic activity and I started thinking . . . “I’d definitely freak out if I saw this eclipse way back when!”
Yes, “way back when” is a technical term for thousands and thousands of years ago. Coincidentally, I still need to watch the movie “The Way Way Back.” Heard nothing but good things about that movie, especially the soundtrack!
But I digress. Back on topic . . . as far as this blood moon, I also started thinking . . . how would I explain this if I did live “way back when”. . .
. . . so in no particular order (and with the use of anachronisms . . . I couldn’t resist these other explanations), here are my explanations as I watched the lunar eclipse.
1) Kool-Aid Man is upping his game. Instead of a wall . . . hello moon!
2) Old-Testament Plague except moon-style this time!
3) Moon got really embarrassed by something. Or angry . . .
Honestly, these were just random thoughts as I watched the lunar eclipse at 4:00 am in the morning (on a break from school no less . . . how fortunate!). More or less, I was glad I witnessed this as I know it’s not extremely rare . . . but still rare enough to get me out of bed to watch the spectacle of nature and the cosmos 🙂
Today marks the start of Fall Break, a one-week “recovery” after starting the school year at the beginning of August. This also marks my 8th year of teaching, which is somewhat surprising to me considering I almost quit two weeks into my first assignment.
How the times have changed.
Just thinking about all the sweeping changes that have been made in education since the beginning of my career, I’m thinking about how much teachers have been doing in the classroom. Just going online will bring you to several infographics, like this one or perhaps this one:
Okay, so that last one isn’t an infographic. Just something I thought funny (though teaching “like a Ninja Turtle” would’ve been better).
Anyway, I’m still going to be working for a little over the break (always catching up to that pesky grading thing) but it’s also a time to reflect. I’ve definitely changed in the 8 years I’ve been teaching and I have gotten better. But there’s always that little voice inside that whispers ever so harshly “you can do better.”
With this year, we have a new emphasis on Math since the school didn’t make as much growth with our student populations as we would’ve liked. It also allows me the opportunity to get better at a few practices that I’m definitely going to change once we resume the school year next week. Here are a few things I’m resolving to get better at once we start-up again:
1) Become a visual math teacher!
I’ve been told that I’ve got high expectations for my students when it comes to anything I do in the classroom, but sometimes, when I teach, I’m not doing everything I can for *all* the students in my classroom. For years, I’ve been trying to shift my instructional practices to incorporate more “visual” learning, since manipulatives are hard to come by (at least for everyone in the classroom).
2) More concepts, less procedural!
I think I need to teach the students more conceptually than I have in the past (not that I wasn’t to an extent). What I mean by this is to reach deeper in terms of the math we’re actually learning and to be more accurate and precise as to why we’re doing certain things within specific algorithms. I know there have been some really public complaints about the Common Core curriculum, especially with Math, but I can understand the thought process behind it. Honestly, I’m still not too sure about Common Core (especially the creation behind and all the debates behind it) but it is challenging to me and what is life without a few challenges?
3) Patience and Consistency
These two ideas have been better, at least in terms of the application within the classroom. Still, I do have so much more to do when it comes to patience and consistency. I feel that sometimes my frustrations (whether it’s an inattentive student, other issues that take instructional time, etc.) do spill over into my teaching and demeanor. I can feel the “flow” of the classroom become stagnant when that happens and I become a rather mediocre teacher when it does. I have to be better. Whether it’s using my own calming exercises, taking a step back to recover, or just allowing the class a simple brain-break, I need to be patient with the outcomes.
I’m also going to resolve to post more 🙂
Sometimes I ask myself . . .
. . . what’s more important?
This applies to a lot of things in life. Obviously, it shouldn’t be taken as concrete life advice, especially from someone like myself, but I’ve been asking myself this question quite a bit lately.
You see, building a classroom culture or climate is always a struggle. For myself, I think I’ve lucked out more often than not through the years. I’ve been blessed by having a few great classrooms, especially in terms of the “community” we try to build. It’s always great to walk into a classroom and just have it feel “right,” knowing that whatever you’re going to teach that day is going to flow and do so beautifully.
Of course, it doesn’t happen all the time.
You’ll have your “rough” days, where it feels like an invisible wall that conveniently places itself right in front of you, teasing and frustrating you to no end. For some reason, it made me think of this scene today:
(Yes, it does worry me a little that I’m at the end of the second week and already compare the experience to “hitting the wall.”)
You’ll have those days where it often feels “wrong,” especially when it comes to the actual content, knowing that some of the students aren’t getting your best. Honestly, that’s one of the worst feelings to experience.
This year, so far, we’ve had more “rough” days than good.
As I said before, this class is taking longer to adapt to the vision I always try to create for the classroom. I know they’re still on their way. Honestly speaking, this is perhaps the longest I’ve had a class not get to that “level” that I always seek for ourselves. Am I disappointed by this? Frustrated? Driven to the point of buying a new bottle of Scotch?
Yes, yes, and no. Well . . . I’ll just buy the Scotch anyway just because I enjoy it!
Anyway, despite the frustration, despite the lack of “speed” in which I hoped they would pick up the classroom climate, there are always the small victories, the tiny shifts of momentum that gain a positive force. I saw students slowly pick up the ideas I talk about constantly in the classroom, the idea of consideration to others, to help our fellow students when they need the help.
They’re getting there. I just have to be patient. I have to believe this class will build itself into something more than even they thought possible. As I said above about the video, it does worry me (just a little) that I’m already thinking I’ve hit a wall.
But I also realize, I know I’m going to keep on going. Just like Simon Pegg’s character in the video.
So what’s more important?
That I keep on going with the vision I have in mind. I’m sure I’ll adapt it as we go along, but the idea of consideration and community, I need to keep that as an important factors as I keep “building” this class.
In the meantime, I just have to learn to relish the small victories. It’ll be enough to keep me going . . .
I took last week to get myself back into the flow of running a classroom again. I’m still in the process of doing so, even with the second week in full swing. Every day, the class gets closer and closer to where I think they should be, at least in terms of management and I can’t wait until it does. This year has been a little “rough around the edges” as I’ve told a few people, but I think they can get there and be the classroom I think they can be. They’re just taking a little longer than other classes I’ve had in the past. Some classes get there within a week, others within a few hours (those are the classes you remember fondly). Anyway, I think I’ll write more about this on Friday.
Since school is in session, I thought I’d hop back onto a train I once started.
A few months back, I decided to start watching Dr. Who, at least the rebooted version that started in 2005 on the BBC. I was gathering up steam, but then the CRTs came around and I got rather busy. I didn’t think I’d pick it up again, until I saw this video below:
The video above was a part of a list about 20 Science Fiction moments that would make you cry. I definitely recommend checking out that link as well. Unless, of course, you have no heart which means I can’t help you.
Anyway, after watching that video, I’ve started binge watching Dr. Who episodes starting from Saturday night (yes, I wild party animal I am). I got through the first season with Eccleston as the Doctor and I’m just about done with Season Two, with Tennant at the helm. I think I may have to reserve judgment about a favorite Doctor until I’ve caught up. However, I did sneak a peak at the actual “Vincent and the Doctor” episode so I do have a little exposure to Matt Smith as the Doctor.
Anyway, like a few other “cult” shows out there, the mythology behind show absolutely fascinates me, especially when more of the characters are flushed out and left exposed (in a good way). What’s even better (at least in my opinion) is that some of the villains, and there are some incredible ones within the Dr. Who universe, get time to develop their character. It’s subtle how the writing builds these “antagonists” then completely gives them another facet to their personality.
It just makes me smile.
I also think a small part of me is infatuated with Rose Tyler, but I think that should be given, correct?
Anyway, the Doctor has already climbed the charts in terms of favorite characters in television or film. Unfortunately, I’ve stopped watching for tonight (possibly) but I can’t wait until “school is in session” with the Doctor.
And yes, I also just saw the episode where the Doctor was a teacher . . . and apparently Giles from Buffy the Vampire slayer was the “Headmaster.” It was nice seeing Anthony Stewart Head as a bad guy!