Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Grass is Always Greener

So, I have made a decision, if I stay where I am I want to move down to 5th and 6th grade.  It seems where my students "mess up" is on the basic skills they were supposed to learn before they get to me.  How do you fix this?  I know that if I can't move down or if I get another job in another district (I'm applying to a district that has 6, 7, 8 available) I need to come up with a game plan.

I need to have a serious pre-assessment ready for  whatever grade I teach.  I need to make sure they have the prerequisite skills down before they learn new stuff...DUH!

I guess it is just so scary when you have that "curriculum that you have to get through" but it will be so much more difficult if they don't have the things they need to know down first.

Ok, lesson learned for this year of teaching.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword

Today I stumbled upon a pretty neat classroom management technique.  I know this is probably so old and maybe even a "duh" type of thing, but sometimes self discovery is so fun.  Anyway, I've had such a problem with kids not paying attention, side conversations, etc.  that today I just got out a composition notebook and started jotting down notes here and there when students were not doing what they were supposed to be doing.  No nagging or yelling just writing.  When they asked me what I was doing I told them I was just "documenting" and when they asked about what or why, I simply shared that when a parent or the principal wanted to know why so and so didn't do so well on a test or concept, I can tell them exactly why.  I told them they are all smart kids and the only reason they do not do well in math is because they do not take their class time seriously.
I had 5 of the best classes I've had in a long time!!  It was awesome!  I am excited to see how this continues...

Friday, March 15, 2013

It's Time to Get Real

I spent the night grading our 4th benchmark exam..after a day of PD where are admin laid out for us the reality of our new renewal guidelines.

To sum it up it all comes down to test scores.  My school may close and it could be all my fault.  I'm not clear on if they are going to go off this year's scores or next, but I know that my kids did very poorly on this benchmark exam which I modeled very closely to the NJ Ask.

I'm not sure what I am feeling right now.  A little bit of shock and sadness is the majority of it.  I know that if our charter's renewal is not contingent on this years scores, as least hopefully I will only be the nail in one coffin (my own) instead of every teacher at my school.

This does not give me any relief though, I am extremely heartbroken.   I love my job so much.  I love the stress, I love dealing with the crappy teenage attitudes.  I LOVE teaching math all day.  However, I guess I'm not really teaching if they are not passing the tests.

I am so sad.  That's just it, sad.  I can make a million excuses, but how am I going to ever teach anywhere else when I've started my career with such failure?

Friday, March 1, 2013

The KWC Chart

This week I was introduced to the KWC chart.  For those who don't know, it is similar to the KWL organizer but a little different.  The way it was explained to me is this, it an organizer for word problems:
K-What do you know?
W-What are you trying to find out, or what is the question?
C- Conditions or considerations

The first thing that stuck out to me with this, is that I've already after 3 days started using it like it is second nature.  Not only writing it out with my kids when we do problems together, but informally when they are working independently and get stuck. I find myself automatically asking "well, what do you know?  Whats the question?  What do we have to watch out for?"  I guess these are questions I've asked all along, but since we started using the chart I can see that there is hope that the kids will start asking THEMSELVES these questions automatically!  Wooo hoooo!