Slowly I've felt myself transitioning into a mid-career mindset. I've been teaching for a long time, it's pretty clear this is what I like to do and what I should be doing, but I haven't been teaching long enough where the end is in site. It's a plateau. I've felt it coming.
Some evolutionary shifts are underway, some intentional, others not.
I'm more constrained this year. Due to an unforeseen accident with a staff member (they are fine), I have stepped in to help coach volleyball, a sport that starts August 1 in Texas. You may or may not be aware that I've coached soccer for my whole career. Being involved with a sport that's in season is demanding: an additional 25-30 hrs a week for 3 months in this case. Plus, it's not like I left soccer, so I still have that athletic period to manage and a 4 month crunch of its own that starts up in December. I could go on, but this isn't a "woe is me" kind of thing, it's a "first year me would be FREAKING THE F OUT right now" reflection of how far I've come.
I was very unmoved or nervous about the first day of the school because I've been on duty for like a month now. Add in the two weeks I spent doing summer camp (an absolute blast) and I never really left.
A tough decision, but I think 180 Photos is out this year. It started as a project of reflection. I learned a lot in the years I took regular photos. I will still take pictures, but they won't be as lesson focused and not posted. Why stop? When I started (in year 4), I hadn't found my beats as an instructor, the regular moves I wanted to iterate on. I did a lot of experimenting with weird technology things and activities. In the four years since, I have found my beats. I started noticing that my photos were really similar. I kept seeing the same projects, moments, and material. A lot of my work now is on the presentation, how the information gets delivered to the students. That doesn't always come through in pictures. If you look at the 2014 and 2015 versions of a project, it wouldn't be immediately clear that I changed everything about the delivery to produce a similar (but with more burden on the learner) result.
What I focus on with my with my writing will change too. I'm in a lot of good places with my lessons. Though there's always room for important iterations. At this point, five years in to really regular reflection through writing, I've said what I've need to say on a lot of "what would you like to do tomorrow?" topics.
More and more I want to stop talking. Fawn read my mind (or stole my idea) in her discussion of terrible habits for math class. Already I'm seeing results in Pre-Calculus. This year we jumped right into trig, which includes a lot of review from geometry. Ordinarily this takes a lot of time, bringing up a concept, coaching them through examples, requiring them to talk me through something else. This time I was like, forget it, just let them figure it out. We're flying through triangle trig and they are having some great discussions because I just shut up.
It continues to be a bit of a problem in Calculus because there is just so much which isn't intuitive right away, for whatever reason. Or at least it feels that way. Given the constraints on my time, I'm limiting how much I will help them outside of the classroom. Meaning I'm not really going to do a lot of the grading. Any rifling through papers will be for feedback only. They can do the grading.
I won't drag out the explanation, but Calculus has such a limited scope and really really needs to be about how I'm doing at the end of the year. Assigning some sort of hard and fast grade in August isn't useful. They need feedback. Though the kid who's ranked #11 did ask if I could somehow sabotage #10. Nerds.
- could I ever get Talking Points going?
- what about double number lines?
- I'm getting access to a subset of Calculus kids once a week, what non-Calculus things could I push them to do? How do you replicate summer camp during the school year?
- how does one get started applying for a grant that could fund summer camp?
- what's Laser Tag day look like with 95 in the Varsity Math crew?
- who are the front runners to be my first batch of legit BC students next year?
- how much am I into the Backstreet Boys this year?
- Sam's ExploreMath blew us all away, I must do this, but when?
A long time ago a favorite college professor of mine remarked that I'd get bored doing the same old thing again year after year teaching high school. I'm glad he was wrong.