School got out a couple of hours ago. I still have some grading to do and I have to clean and pack up my classroom, but I’d like to get out some gut feeling reflections on the year. The good and the bad.
I know people say start with something positive, but I’d rather get the things I feel bad about out of the way.
- I HATE GRADING WITH POINTS. This is the first year I’ve done it – all previous years were done with standards based grading and GOOD GOD DID I MISS IT. I’m sure some people know how to grade effectively using points, but I do not. Everything is arbitrary and I have much less confidence that grades for any given assignment reflect student understanding. They often reflected student completion and that feels gross to me. Next year I’ll be grading with a rubric again and I am so grateful.
- I still stink at homework. Please god, someone tell me how to do homework effectively so that it’s useful and helpful for students and doesn’t eat my time worthlessly.
- I have a long way to go when it comes to collaborating with colleagues. I love sharing ideas, but I am too possessive of what happens in my room. I need to figure out a better way to balance sharing and collaborating with others while keeping a hold on the things I value in math education. This is a real problem. I am excited about the colleagues I’m going to be co-planning with next year, though, so I feel this can be a focus next year.
- I still don’t know how to effectively plan units. This bugs me. I need to be able to plan longer term and have faith that I can still adapt to my students needs as they come up.
- I spent a lot of time going outside the standards and that paid off…mostly. By this I mean that we talked about the fourth dimension and infinite series when the standards stop at 3D and finite series. These excursions definitely got kids engaged and kids told me how much they liked exploring them. That was awesome. But they ate time and I think may have hurt practical skill levels in the standards. Which I don’t care about, really, but I bet the ACT does, and I’m not yet sure how to remedy that, but I’m determined to figure it out.
- In surveying students at the end of the year, most students said they felt I was super approachable and that they could ask questions without worrying about being wrong. They felt super comfortable talking to me. That’s awesome! But one student said they wished they could have asked me questions without feeling ashamed. That kills me. The surveys were anonymous so I don’t know who it was, but my god I feel terrible that even one kid felt that in my classroom. 😦
- Kids like my class. End of year surveys made me cry a lot (good crying). Whatever else I may be doing in my classroom, kids like it. I worry that they like it because its easy (I don’t think it is, but it’s hard to know sometimes) or I let them get away with stuff (I don’t think I do, but I don’t know what happens in other classrooms) or I’m not as demanding or some other thing, but whatever else it might be: I am extremely pleased that they like it. Math class is often not a good place for kids and I am thrilled that most kids said my class was their favorite, and that although they didn’t like math before, now they do. Some quotes:
“You killed it this year, I always felt very supported and like some one cared about me thank you so much”
“this is probably the most engaged I’ve ever been in a math class.”
“I felt good about math this year”
“You’re excitement and love of math is so inspiring and it made this math class so positive!”
“I had a really great time being in her class I’ve felt like I’ve learned a lot and it’s been really enjoyable I’m going to miss it”
I mean, it’s pretty hard to not be happy about those things. I want kids to like math class, and I want them to feel like they have a place in my room. I am so glad that many of them did.
2. THE MATHEMATICIAN PROJECT. Nearly every kid cited this as a positive on their survey. They love it. And this year I had them research mathematicians and when they presented their mathematicians my face hurt from smiling. I’ll do a separate blog post on that soon. I honestly cannot recommend it enough. A ton of students also cited how grateful they were that we talked about social justice in my class, which means a lot to me, because I work hard to make sure there’s space for that in my class.
3. I have a long way to go on this, but I did a fair amount of work getting kids to talk more in class and I think it went really well. We had great discussions on everything from politics to integers and I think (have no evidence) that is part of why kids liked my class. I tried really hard to give them voice.
I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what’s in my head right now. It was a great year. I love being a teacher.