Sunday, May 31, 2015

Writer's Paralysis

Boy do I ever have this!  I can't call it writers block because I feel like that is when you can't think of anything to write about.  I have too much stuff going through my mind and I think that is where I get stuck.  Ironically that is why I started this blog in the first place.  To get these things out of my head and be able to make sense of it all in a useful way.  I get stuck because I know that some people actually read my blog and I feel self-conscious about putting it out here.

What I have been doing is reading a lot of blogs  and I find that the blogs I admire the most are the ones that really focus on the math itself and  math teaching, not just general ed stuff or behavior or the newest tech (for the sake of the tech, not how it improves or assists in learning.)
When looking at my blog, it is mostly that.  So I would like to shift that.

This past Friday I made a huge mistake that turned out pretty cool.  I registered for a conference which I thought was held by the AMTNJ, Association of Mathematics Teachers of NJ.  The focus was on formative assessment and the keynote speaker was David Wees, who I follow on Twitter and really respect.  Now, I've been to these conferences before and they are really big.  So when I got to TCNJ and found the room it was being held in I found it odd that there were only about 20-25 people there.  It then jumped out at me from the registration form, I was at a NJAMTE conference, NJ Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators.  I was pretty embarrassed and intimidated being a little 5/6 math teacher in a room full of professors and supervisors, but I stayed anyway and learned so much.
What really stood out to me is that I am interested in more than just being a classroom teacher . Starting so late in the game to this profession I really thought I would just want to stay in the classroom and keep improving my craft (which I still do) but the thought of helping other teachers improve and grow and having an impact on even more students is really exciting.  I think it is because I have such a passion for it that most people that I talk to immediately recognize.  I don't know if all teachers are like this or not, but most of the teachers I work with are not so much.
Another part of the day that really stands out to me was the conversations that took place at lunch.  The group I was sitting with were totally accepting of me and made me feel welcome.  I learned that teachers have the same issues and concerns at every level.  I also learned that these educators shared the same passion I do.  Also one of them even shared that was why he decided to teach at the college level instead of high school, he wanted to talk about math and math ed and the colleagues he was working with in the high school did not.  

In the classroom, I've been teaching Hands on Equations to both my 5th and 6th graders.  This is the first time I've run through the program with kids who can really benefit from it (as opposed to 7th graders who already had a lot of experience solving equations) and I am so excited by all of the great learning we are doing.  Especially with integers, inverse operations, substitution etc.  I can't wait to see how these students do next year with more formal studies of these topics!