Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why I am not quitting teaching.

Dear Teacher Friends,

I have decided today like I decided every other day for the past 6 years not to quit teaching.  I am courageously sharing my decision to wake up tomorrow and walk back in to my classroom where 32-40 mostly sleepy faces will greet me with the love and affection of a grunt as I smile and hold open the door.

Amazingly, I have not found in my understandably short six years that students have suddenly and magically become monsters from hell.  I have apparently not been teaching long enough to remember the perfect angel teenagers of the 50s? 60s? 70s? Really the 80s? My students screw up every single day.  My students are massively distracted by their iphones, headphones, fingernails, hair, neighbor’s nose, and possibly by their own nose.  And yet I persevere through their distraction to understanding because I never actually thought that teenagers had undivided attention.  My students are occasionally rude, sarcastic, and gross, all at the same time. This is my HUGE GINORMAUS cross to bear.  Weirdly, this doesn’t bother me at all.  Did you know I signed up to teach them?  Not the nice ones, although they are a solid bonus. Not the clean ones, although plus points there, too.  Or the smart ones or the easy ones or the kind ones.  I am super surprisingly not quitting teaching.  In fact, I will continue to show up everyday for each and everyone of them. Because that is what I signed up for.

I decided today not to quit because national standards are trying to erase inequality in a way that makes my job more challenging.  Weirdly, I don’t find having to read and interpret standards a burden.  In fact, I never thought I’d just be able to walk into a classroom and teach whatever the heck I wanted. So strange.  I decided not to quit teaching today even though there are 4 days this year and 8 days last year that I am being pulled out of my classroom to talk about my practice and how to improve it. ABSURB.  I am sticking with this shit even though I have to develop as an educator.

I am not quitting teaching even though I worked 12 hours with students yesterday to ensure under the system at my school that every child attains competency on every standard.  Did you know before I agreed to be a teacher I had heard they worked long hours?  I even have to give them feedback when the are not in class and find ways to communicate that feedback with their parents.  This shockingly takes a shit ton of time.  I mean I hear in the good old days of teaching you went home at 4:00pm.  Right? That you never worked nights or weekends? This is a real thing, correct? Yet even with these drastically high expectations of me and my work with children I will still not be quitting tomorrow.

Lastly, I am not quitting tomorrow because I am not an idiot.  I got in to this job with my eyes open, knowing on a good day it would crush my soul, energy, and brain. I do expect that like any other job it will change and my feelings on it will change and when it does maybe I will quit but it won’t be because this job wasn’t what I thought it would be.  It won’t be because I have suddenly and completely lost faith in the system. Because if that was the case I would just know how much more important it was for me to be there.  Education is not for the weak of soul, energy, or brain and while I am not some magical teacher fairy with limitless supplies of any of these I am committed.

Mostly, I am committed to never reading another fucking letter from a disgruntled teacher about their decision to quit.  If you feel like writing one of those let me know and I am happy to give you suggestions just where you can put it.

Love,
me.

 

The Year of Anne

Have you ever seen the show Happy Endings?  First off, stop reading this and go watch the whole thing.  It’s a group comedy that is significantly better than How I Met Your Mother and without the insane backstory. And the whole thing is on Hulu.  Go. Now. I’ll see you in about 45 hours.

 

 

Oh hai, you’re back? A-mah-zing.  If you didn’t have time for that (or are just ignoring my sup advice) I suppose you can just watch the clip below.

Penny Hart is ridiculous.  She’s a lot of things I’m not and also a lot of things I want to be.  She’s funny, smart, successful, a little desperate, and optimistic.  So, I’ve made a decision to follow Penny I have decided that this year will be the Year of Anne. (I’m debating t-shirts with my name and face on them, want one?)

 

I turn 30 on Wednesday and while you can all continue to reassure me that 30 is not old it is something.  It’s a milestone.  And it’s one I’m not choosing to ignore.

A lot blogs I read like to chose a word or a theme for the the year and in the spirit of being a follower mine is relentless optimism.

This is the year of yes, amazing, awesome, can do, want to, and get it.

This is the Year of Anne.

 

Photo on 1-2-16 at 11.29 AM.jpg

(must be the new blonde hair.  makes me perky.)

 

Happy New Year Friends.  May this be the best one yet.

 

Anne

 

p.s.  I’ve missed you blog friends.  let’s talk again soon, k? K.

 

What would you do with this?

In continuing my reflection of this teacher partner program I have a question for you or for us I suppose.  What is the best why to do this thing?

So here’s the clarification: I now have access to quality release time.  Meaning I can get a another teacher into my room to teach my class in 20-30 minute chunks to go see my department teach.  I can also get someone to come in to my classroom and watch me and collect data and talk about it.

I’m super lucky right? Right.  Here’s the thing just because you can do something doesn’t mean it’s useful.  I really want to apply this to it’s best possible use. Here are some thoughts I’ve had so far but I would love more.

  1. Pick a time when I need to do a certain thing and have the teacher partner observe (basic).
  2. Talk to other teachers about their plans and see specific plans (a little hard to coordinate).
  3. See other departments? What am I looking for?
  4. Naps?  (JK, mostly)

Alright, your turn, what would you do with this?

We might not be doing it right but we are doing it better.

Have I talked about Bryan before? I can’t remember.  We did our credentials together than I went away for four years and he worked for the High Tech Schools.  He is a deeper thinker than anyone I know and can ask 100 questions while only answering one. (A skill that occasionally drives me nuts)  Weirdly enough when I moved home to work for my new school Bryan started a job as a Math Coach in the same district. So we work together, which is rad.

Now I get to be one of the schools implementing Bryan and Abi‘s teacher partner program.  My school is a special case in a lot of ways and we might not do it completely as written in Bryan’s post. But we are doing some of the things he talked about and I am just going to write up what our first department meeting looked like in terms of this program.

First, some information about my school.  I teach at a Health Sciences Magnet school in a public district.  We are 3 years old with 240ish a grade (currently we only have 1/2 a class of seniors).  Our scholars are 60% Hispanic, 30% White, and 10% everything else. 60% of our scholars receive free and reduced lunch.  Our scholars travel in 30-40 student cohorts that are mixed ability through all their classes which means two things: 1) we do not track and 2) they spend all day with the same kids. Our students have 75-85 minutes of math everyday all year.  (This is not true for all the schools in the district)

And now back to the program. We have two people in the role of teacher partner this year.  Since this was our first department meeting about this they explained what they would be doing in this role.  Essentially, it sounded like they would be helping us focus our thinking through data collection, classroom visits, covering for us to make classroom visits, and leading conversations to help us grow as a department.  Overall real good stuff. They each get one release period to help make this happen.

Then we jumped in on the topic of the day: Structured Math Talks (side note: if you use Kagan structures this is very very similar).  First we partner talked on the purpose/ importance of SMTs.  Then we all shared out and made a list of why they are important.FullSizeRender-1

Next we watched a video of three of us setting up SMTs.  (I might post my little part later.)  As we watched the directions were to watch the setup of the STM then state any noticings or wonderings we had.  I thought about Max and the Math Forum all day.

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We did all of this in about 45 minutes.  SMT is going to be our department’s focus for the next month or so. We are going to try to do more of them, watch each other, and talk about it.  We are going to look for opportunities in our lessons as a grade level team for places to implement them.

At the end of the meeting Brent (one of my colleagues) made this comment, “Last year I thought implement one a week would be overwhelming.  Now I try to do this everyday.”   #totes

I’m gonna talk more about how and when I do STMs  in a later post because this one is more about the structure of our teaching partner program.

Two finals things: 1. I am going to try to be uber reflective this year 2. I only wrote this cause Bryan asked me and he’s my boss.  Just Kidding.  He’s now real upset I wrote that he is my boss. He is definitely not. Though I did write this because he asked me to after writing it I know, as always, that this post is most useful and meaningful to me.

p.s. gosh I love talking about teaching and how to make it better.

Progress.

Whenever I talk to my dad about the neighborhood I work in he talks about how it’s, “getting better.”  He means  it a kind way but I really struggle with that language.  I struggle with the cost of gentrification.  If you have some time this week you should listen to WNYC’s Death Sex and Money.  This week Anna Sale went to New Orleans and talked to people about the 10 year anniversary of Katrina.  I have only listened to the first one but here are the couple of quotes from Terri Coleman, an adjunct prof at Dillard, that hit home

But progress and change comes at a cost and I think in the narratives of progress that are told by outsiders there’s not a appreciation for what we’ve lost in order to make this progress.

I’m not sure if fancy kale and bike lanes are worth that. Even though I love kale and I love bike lanes. I’m not sure if they’re worth that.

Find some time this week and give a listen.