Monday, June 10, 2013

End of the year

As my truly first full year as a certified teacher is winding down I think I have done a decent job. I fell into rut here and there, but overall I think my students are much better now then when they first walked through my door. Here are a few things that I want to work on next year:

- Feedback. I want all of my students to get better feedback. I find that I will grade their tests, they will sit on my desk for a week, then I will have them back. After so much time has gone by I don't think the students get as much out of it as I want them too. I also want to leave more personal feedback so the students can see what things they can do to improve. I might not even put a grade on the test, but only in the gradebook. Thoughts?

- Website. I used to love my website. I had everything on it from videos, pencasts, a calendar, etc. Then about 2-3 months into school I stopped updating it. I want to use it more in class in hopes my students will use it more often as well.

- Social Media. I love this stuff! I never thought it could ever be this cool. I love my department, and I love bouncing ideas off of them and stealing their ideas. Now I have tons of colleagues that I can steal ideas from! (sorry, collaborate).

Here are also a few things I think I did well this year:

- Rapport. I feel as though I connect well with many of my students. This may be because I sometimes behave like a senior. My administrator made note of the mutual respect and positive interactions I had during my observation. I think he was right. I want to continue that next year, especially since I will need to prepare 4 sections of freshmen for high school.

- Blogging. This ties in with social media, but I started a blog, and I intend on continuing. This is cool stuff.

- Professional Development. I am finishing up 2 classes now, and I would love to start working towards a PhD.

- Stay in Math. I love math. I also love biology, but I am staying. My department is truly phenomenal. I can't imagine teaching anything else right now.

I want to continue getting better. I think we all have ways we can continue to improve. I am so happy that I discovered social media, and I know I am already a better teacher because of it. I am really excited to spend time with my daughter and my wife, but I am also excited to get started next year!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I just said that...

Today in my algebra 1 class we were working on applications of quadratics. I went over some very cool (at least I thought they were cool) demonstrations, some students go to throw things, etc. yesterday. Today we tied that into the quadratic formula and the vertex. We started working on a worksheet that outlined the equations that we would be using, and also a few start up questions based on what we had talked about yesterday.

The first 2 questions:  How can you determine what the maximum height is that an object reaches? How can you determine the time an object is in the air? My students were all quick to answer the first question: Find the vertex. At that point I thought great! This class will be awesome!!!

The second question required a little bit more thought, because they all assumed the x axis was distance, and not time. But it was not long until they figured out they needed to solve for x (or t) using the quadratic formula. Again, YES!!!

That is when we crashed and burned. Next problem: You shoot a basketball, here is your initial height and velocity, how high does the ball go into the air.

Them: Blank stares. "I'm confused."

 Me: #$@#$%@#%@#%#!!!!!!!!

Where is the disconnect?

I get to teach this lesson again in 15 minutes. I hope we can make this connection, and if anything changes I will let you know.

But this reminded me of a post from @edtechdev on Twitter. "There are 26 sheep and 10 goats on a boat. How old is the captain?"

I hope it is me, because I can fix me. But I also hope its not me, because I feel like I make connections to math and the real world often. I will change up my approach soon and hopefully things will go a little more smoothly. Thanks for your thoughts!!!

The second time I thought the class, the about half of the class knew what was going on! I changed up my delivery a bit, so I am thinking maybe that had something to do with it.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Thank you all for your positive feedback. I really feel as though this will make my lessons much better and much more interesting. I have always felt that my best lessons come from bouncing ideas off of my department or friends who are teachers. I have a feeling this is going to be great!

Tomorrow will be my last day of truly new material before Keystone week. We are going to review a few topics we skipped over, but for the most part it is material they have seen before. My main goal of next week is to build up their confidence.

I can't tell you how many students told me they know they won't pass that test. They have heard other students' horror stories, they have seen sample problems, and they assume they will perform poorly. As stressed as I am about this test, some of my students are just as nervous (others couldn't possible care less). I am excited to teach next week because of those scared students. I am going to teach a Dan Meyer Act 3 lesson, and I know they will succeed. They can't fail.

"My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me."Jimmy Valvano. I believe my students will pass. They are ready.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Here is a little more about me. 

I earned a bachelors of science in biology from the University of Scranton in 2007. I knew I wanted to teach in some way, but I was not sure what age I wanted to teach. I started looking for masters degrees around Philadelphia, and I was fortunate enough to be accepted to Saint Joseph's University. Their master of science program had a special program in conjunction with the National Science Foundation and a local museum called the Wagner Free Institute of Science. While working on my research and taking classes, I taught elementary school at four schools in the area. It was an amazing experience and I learned so many things about teaching. I also learned there was no way that I would be teaching elementary the rest of my life, and there was no way I would be continuing my education the following year. I wanted to get out into the workforce, and I wanted to teach high school.

For now, high school is a great age. I think I have much to offer the students at this age group. Obviously I am very concerned with their education, but I think I can help with their emotional and social growth as well. 

I applied for countless jobs, and I was fortunate enough to teach a combined 7th and 8th grade at an elementary school. I really enjoyed that year, but I really wanted to teach high school. Through some miscommunications with a university I was attending part time to obtain my teacher's certification, I was forced to quit after a year and attend school full time (again). That was a rough year. My spring semester I was taking 15 credits of graduate classes, 3 undergrad credits, working part time at Petsmart, and tutoring 15 hours per week. The next semester I student taught and against what the university told me, I kept my part time job and continued tutoring. I finally earned my teacher's cert in 2011.  (Side note - I don't really like that university, because I had a few scheduling/financial conflicts)

Even with my education, experience, and now certification in math, biology and general science, I was hired for a long term sub position the Friday before school started. I finally got to teach high school! I taught biology for a quarter, took a handful of substitute positions, then found another long term sub position teaching math, then I was hired full time when the position opened (Finally a full time position!!!!). 

I love teaching math, and I love the high school where I am teaching. My department is great, and we all support each other very well. I think my best lessons come from collaboration with my department. I really like bouncing ideas off of them, and I enjoy helping others with their lessons. That is what I am looking for with my blog, and I really enjoyed reading the feedback from people, because it seems that is what most people are looking for as well, which makes me excited to be here!

I would't want to read something this long, so I will save more info about me until I have some more time. But that is how I got to where I am. Thanks!

Monday, April 29, 2013

First Blog

I have to admit, I think I have always disliked the idea of blogging. I thought of the people who blogged as people who are trying to force their opinions on anything and everything, whether they are knowledgeable or not. In hindsight, I think that was a very unfair opinion. However I will do my best to not tell people what or how they should think.

The purpose of this blog will be to make me (and hopefully you) a better teacher. I have taught in some way since 2007, and I have loved it ever since (if any of you care to know a little more about me, let me know. Otherwise I won't bore you with those details). Lately I have been a little discouraged preparing my algebra students for the Keystone exam, and I fell as though I have been leaning on direct instruction to cram in as much information as possible in a very short period of time.

However the past day or so I have felt a renewed sense of enjoyment from teaching. I really do love teaching, and I feel as though I will really be able to show what I can do in my second real full year of teaching. But that is next year.

This year I started a blog. I have a cool idea for a lesson tomorrow in my Pre-Calc class (Thanks Nora), and I am chaperoning a field trip Friday. So the point of this first post was for me to think about why I love teaching, because I really do love it. I can't wait to get to work in the morning.