The 2010 – 2011 school year is into full swing. Grades are being pulled daily for athletics and we are administrating the first round of local assessments. With everything that has happened over the past 3 weeks, I am starting to realize how my new building works. Since this is the very first blog post, I guess I should give you a little background information.
Background – The Last 9 Years 3 Weeks
I have been teaching in the same district since the 2001 – 2002 school year. The first 9 years, I taught at the middle school level and interacted with mostly ninth grade. The first 7 years, I taught Integrated Math, Math 9, Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1. All of the students that were in those classes were on par for their grade level or 1 to 2 years behind. I am sure in some cases, students were even further behind and of course a few students were ahead of the course work. During my last 2 years at the middle school, I taught the gifted classes. With the start of the 2010 – 2011 school year, my tenth year, I find myself at the high school with 6 sections of Algebra 1 containing students with abilities ranging from IEP to GIEP, plus I have to deal with a new set of administrators.
Administrators: Past and Present
As a middle school teacher, I was pretty much left alone. The first 4 years, I was observed 7 times. The feedback was mediocre at best. It was more of a process then an evaluation. Either the administrator read the evaluation or it was handed to you to look over. My evaluations have always been satisfactory, so it was quick, usually less than a minute. During the next 5 years, I don’t really remember being observed. An administrator did come to my room once, but he sat and was intrigued by my Smart Airliner Slate, so I spent the period teaching the class and teaching him how to use the slate. For the most part, I was left alone, because I was handling my classroom.
I am excited and scared about this school year. I am excited because my immediate supervisor is a former math teacher. That has never happened before. He is excited to help me improve my teaching skills. I am good teacher, but I want to be better. One thing that he wants his staff to do is to pick 1 to 2 areas of improvement for this school year. We were given a list of areas to improve. I left the information at school, so I cannot give anymore details, but I look forward to reflecting on my practice as a teacher of mathematics.
The Year’s First Faculty Meeting
The reason I know so much about my supervisor is because the first faculty meeting of the year took place today. He took time to introduce himself and let us know about his philosophy about being an administrator. We had a chance to share and our positive and negative experiences with administration and regards to observations and supervision. It was good to hear from my peers about their struggles with administration and in the classroom. Their problems are similar to mine. A few of the elective teachers were describing how they have the range of kids from very low to average or even above average. I know what that is like.
Another good point that was brought up, was the “gotcha” technique. I have not experienced it, all the high school teachers that I see everyday told me to get my paperwork done on time, so administration can not “get me”. Last year, teachers were getting in trouble for turning almost pointless paperwork in late. For the most part, I get my paperwork done on time, so I don’t have to worry about it.
Overall, I had a good time at the faculty meeting today. I am encouraged by the willingness of my administrator to help me improve my teaching practice. I have been working on getting my students actively engaged in the lessons. To incorporate a formative assessment, I have used two techniques: small dry erase boards and thumb up, thumb down. Just today, I received a set of class responders. I am looking forward to using it in class and it is an easier way to gets kids to participate in the lesson, because it is anonymous.
Areas of Improvement
I have been working on actively engaging students in my lessons for a year and a half now. I do not think I need to improve in that area. I do need to improve on how to differentiate instruction. This year is going to be especially tough because my room is so small. The class that could use differentiate instruction the most has 29 students in it and there is no room to move. This takes away the one differentiate strategies I really wanted to try this year. It involved a lot so student movement. I already have an idea of how to get around it. The plan will start with a new seating chart. Secondly, it is going to require me to be more organized, but I think I can handle it.
The modified technique will work:
The teacher will model an example, then the students will complete an example on their own. I call this the I do, You do method.
Using responding devices or another formative assessment, the teacher will determine how many of the students understood the example. The students that understood will be assigned a set of problems to complete.
The teacher will model another example for the students that did not understand the example, then the students will complete another example on their own.
Again, using responding devices or another formative assessment, the teacher will determine how many of the students understood the example. The students that understood will be assigned a set of problems to complete.
After the second example, the teacher will either have no students left and will monitor student progress as they complete the assigned problems or the teacher will be left with a small group of students that will receive more individualized instruction.
Just a thought for now, but with my administrator’s help, it may become a reality.
It is late good night.