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 🙂