Monday, July 25, 2016

Highlighting mistakes

I have been thinking about the new year that is fast approaching. I am excited to be heading into a new year, but I will miss my summer vacation. I want to have conversations with my students and help them through their mistakes. I have recently discovered the benefits of making mistakes and have found how much I have learned from my own mistakes.

Far too often I hear from students that they just want the answer. They look up answers on photomath and think that is all that they need to pass the class. I do not want to concentrate on the answers but rather to concentrate on the process. It is one thing to get a correct answer but does having the correct answer mean that they have the understanding of the process. I think not. I want them to understand the relationship of numbers and patterns.

This year I will have all freshmen and will be teaching Algebra I. I have named my class Madtown Mathematics. Algebra Boot Camp. Madtown is for our city of Madera which is also the name of our robotics team: Madtown Robotics.

I like the idea of having an Algebra Boot Camp. I was thinking that more than likely, my incoming freshman will probably not have enough background knowledge as they need. It seems that is always the case. There are a few that come in with all the background knowledge that they need to be successful, but the majority do not. I don't know if it is a flaw in our system as it is or not, but I just know that I am going to give my own students as much as I can.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

First Day of School Jitters

The first day of school is right around the corner and I am getting all anxious to meet my new students. I am hoping to start the year off with my students since I was not able to do so last year. I am teaching only Algebra 1 this year for five periods. I don't know when my prep period is. Last year it was the last period of the day and that was nice because I could fall exhausted and be able to catch my breath before heading home.

Some of my plans this year:
I am looking forward to implementing more writing for my students. I am always hearing from them that this is Math and not English so they think that they can get out of writing. Well not gonna happen.
Another thing I want to do is not use pencils in class. Mistakes are excellent learning opportunities and if we are using pencils that can be erased, then we are missing out on a valuable learning tool (at no additional cost, and what teacher doesn't like free).

I need to sit down and think of some of the other things I need to do for this year. Any suggestions?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

My life is a circus

My life is a circus. It is a constant performance, and I am juggling various acts.
Johnny hasn’t had his breakfast, Willi needs help with homework, Caitlyn is dressing the chickens, Kenny shoes are untied, Michael has disappeared (again), Sean is chasing the cat, Brent is scaring the younger kids, Kevin is complaining (always complaining).

How do I keep up with all of these children?

I walk across the sawdust ground and look up to see the high flying trapeze acts. I am mesmerized.
These are my days of navigating the legos on the floor and washing clothes and feeding children. I am amazed at the disasters these kids come up with.

How do they think of all the things that they do?

I am the ringmaster of my life. I am in charge. I take the whip in my hand and control everything around me that I am capable of controlling.
I am no longer at the mercy of a someone’s whim. I know that I can walk away if it is what is best for me. I no longer  submit myself to someone else’s morals.

How could I have been so gullible?

As I walk across the tightrope, I have no fear for I have a safety net to catch me when I fall. I know that I am not invincible and this net is there for a reason.
The safety net I have is that of my family and friends who are there to support me when it is necessary and help to celebrate my successes.

How could I survive without my loved ones?

I keep the circus within alive, always going, always smiling, not taking life too seriously,
I know that it will work out in the end. I smile at the little things, enjoy the experiences and when the circus tents are packed up and leaving, I will miss the days of the hustle and bustle of our circus days.

How I miss those wonderful days.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Power of Mistakes

Every time a student makes a mistake in math, they grow a synapse. (14)

It this is true then we are missing out on the one of the greatest teaching tools we have available to at no extra charge. I teach math but I hate it when someone tells me when I am talking about something mathematical, 'That's easy for you because you are a math person'. Excuse me. I am not a math person. I am an educator first. I struggle with math just like the next person, but the difference in me and the person next to me is that I am not afraid of making mistakes.

Making mistakes was not something that I have always embraced. In fact, I have spent most of my life trying not to make any mistakes for fear of being yelled at or viewed as inferior. It has only been recently that I have changed that mindset and, in fact, it has been with the change of that mindset that I have discovered how much I have learned. I feel that in the past couple of years when I gave myself permission to start making mistakes, I have learned more than I have in most of my entire adult life. That is amazing.

If we believe that we can learn, and that mistakes are valuable, our brains grow to a greater extent when we make a mistake. (17)

Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students' Potential through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching by Jo Boaler Follow @joboaler on Twitter