Update First month of School

For those of you who don’t know I am teaching 6, 7, 6/7 advanced and 8 remedial math at a high performing school with bused in low performing middle schoolers in CA.  This is an update one month in to my first year as a teacher.

1) I am in general a success.  I mean I haven’t cried yet, even though a girl did ask me if i was pregnant.  My students haven’t revolted yet, even though I make endless mistakes.  My principal and vice principal have both taken me aside to say I’m doing a good job.  So overall not a failure.

2) I am teaching the lowest 60 eight graders and they are my favorite.  I was telling sarcasymtope the other day that my real challenge are the honors students because they are just so darn smart.  They are a 6/7 combo at about half and half and all of the 6th graders scored above 500 on the State test (300 being averageish) and I have 5 that scored perfect.  So needless to say they are to smart for their own good and certainly will soon be smart than me.  My problem is this and i and looking for any advice you can give me: How do I challenge them? I am looking for some suggestions on pushing their thinking further.

3) I am doing this like a list because it makes me feel more like I am getting things out.

4) Behavior:  I have to work on a couple things.  First, my 6th graders need more consistency in behavior.  I expect them to understand quiet v. loud and work v. test and they just don’t yet.  I mean it’s not a big deal but I find my self frustrated with them and they are really just babies.

5) Behavior 8: My 8th graders last year had a core teacher with no classroom management.  She would take kids cellphones and put them on her desk and then they would take them back when she wasn’t looking and she wouldn’t do anything.  They ran her classroom and most of them had her 2 or 3 periods a day.  So, as hard as their other 3 teachers tried the behaviors were just so bad they got out of control.  A little stats for you: of the 3 middle schoolers to be suspended this year all of them are mine, of the 8 boys in counseling group  7 of them are mine (one is to low for regular math), of the 17 kids to be in my administrative lunch detention (that I run once a week) 15 of them are mine.  So needless to say it’s been a challenge.  They are, the VP said, “testing me” and i am “passing” according to her.  I am tough and firm and silly and crazy and in love with these kids.

4) There is a girl all full of hate.  Not me, a child.  She is smart and pretty and can bend people to her will and all full of anger.  Anger, Anger, Anger.  She spread a rumor that I was pregnant.  (Now, I am not super skinny but I sure as hell don’t look like a baby’s on the way.) Then one day in class she asked, “Are you pregnant?” I kinda just looked at her.  Then I kept going.  I held her after class and said something like this, ” I don’t know why you are trying to get me to hate you.  I don’t think it’s so bad for your teachers to like you.  I want to like you.  All of us want to like you.  Stop trying so hard to make me hate you.  Tuesday, tuesday I will like you again but today, today I don’t like you. Come back tuesday and try again.” Then I sent her to class with note that said, “Feel free to mark her tardy.” Sometimes I am a mean.   I really like her and all I see in her is potential. She will be awesome by the end of the year.

5) My students have stopped telling stupid lies.  I had about 20 stupid cheating and lying incidences at the beginning of the year and they have stopped.  Mostly because I have been reeming them for those stupid things.

6) I need some other advice, What are your strategies for making sure knowledge is being retained? My eighth graders are about to go on to high school and someone is bound to say, “Why didn’t their middle school teacher teach them that?” The answer being I did I just couldn’t get them to remember it.

7) I am afraid I am not doing a good job.  The other teachers seem to rely on the text book more and I dunno maybe I am not using my resources enough, but I mean I have a degree in math sometimes I just have to do without it.  I am afraid of not being an effective teacher.  Should I be more worried about test scores? Is that the measure of my success as a teacher?

8) A friend said to me recently that he wished we all had little lights above our head that turned on when we were totally checked out or “over it.” I imagine mine would be a super shiny unicorn.  He drew his as a lovely middle finger image that I imagine would wind like a jack-in-the-box as he got more and more over it.  Audience participation: What would yours be?

9) I got my smart board today.  Will be installed in the next little bit.  I also got approval to start and get paid for doing a math club!!! I am an amazing nerd.

10) Thanks for reading lastly in a fit of self promotion I wanted to say I had three kids say they never liked math before this. 😀 best compliment ever.

peace out, girl scout.

p.s. if anyone wants to bottle up some ocean and send it my way i’d really appreciate it.  i miss it something fierce.

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3 thoughts on “Update First month of School

  1. Woo-hoo! You made it!! *happy dance*

    Don’t you just love it?

    I teach all the lowest kids at my school too. I love them as well.

    You should not rely on the book more unless you feel you need it. Don’t judge your effectiveness on the actions of others. Base it on your kids’ attitudes and behaviors and thinking. You’ve already said the lying and cheating have stopped so you are already effective!

    My light would be a bear. And when I was happy it would be hugging and cuddly. And when I was over it, it would be all growly and clawing.

    And behavior for your sixth graders…I totally imagine you teaching them some cool hand symbol or code word or funky dance that lets them know when it’s time to be quiet vs. loud and work vs. test.

    As far as challenging your smarty pants, what about doing the WCYDWT from Dan or introducing harder material or a project or something? Not that I have any specific ideas or would know how the heck to do any of that, but hey, at least I have ideas!

    Also, in my head, you are Esme from the book Educating Esme.

    Just saying…

  2. 1. Woo hoo! Congrats on getting through the first month. Sounds like lots of great work going on.

    2. I know know know how much you care about/respect/love your students, but be careful throwing around “lowest” and “smart”, especially when they’re based on CST scores. If you haven’t already, I suspect you’ll find some real surprises in your “low” class, especially thinking outside the traditional definition of smart. That said, if you’re looking for ways to challenge your students (in either class) I’d be happy to share some material from my million years of teaching 6th/7th grade If you’re interested, shoot me an email at my gmail address avery (dot) pickford.

    3. People love lists.

    4/5. It sounds like you’re making good progress with this, the part of teaching that I personally find to be the most difficult…especially the kids who have had such a negative experience with school and/or math.

    6. Easier said than done, but focus as much as you can on being able to explain “why” and having them “doing” instead of “watching”. Then there’s lots less to remember.

    7.While I will admit that my personal hatred for textbooks might influence my feelings about this, but I think anyone would say that the amount you use a textbook has no correlation with your effectiveness as a teacher.

    8. Hey! You got a problem with the number 8? You skipped #8!

    9&10. Sweet and sweet!

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