Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 02 2012

New Year’s Resolutions

1) I will devote time every week to teach my kids how to problem-solve. I will explicitly teach them and spend time letting them practice, work together, and present solutions to the types of problems that make even my really advanced kids think. I will not slide into the complacency of working in a district where “problem solving” means “answering word problems on a standardized test correctly”. I will remember the countless hours of work that brilliant people in my old district put into training me on how to do this correctly and well, and I will push myself to actually make that happen.


2) I will take data on my kids more regularly and use it well. All humbleness aside, I used to be the queen of data. Last year, I had this massive Excel spreadsheet where I recorded every kid’s performance on every skill I tested. Sure, a test might have been on probability, but if it involved multiplying and simplifying fractions then I took data for those skills, too. As kids got better (or forgot things and got worse) I went back and updated old skills. It was time-consuming, but not nearly as bad as it sounds, and my data told me everything, quickly, all the time. I used it for everything I did and my kids benefited enormously. My new school has these amazing programs that record and analyze data, and they really are heaven-sent and wonderful. But I still haven’t figured out how to make them work right for me, and I’m tired of re-running reports every time I want to check something real quick, and I can’t update anything as my kids change. I’ve become a fish out of water with data, and that’s just embarrassing. So I need to get a tech guy to sit down and help me make the programs do what I want them to do. (Or just invest the extra time in simultaneously running my personal spreadsheet and tracking things the new way?)


3) I will make my kids write in math class. I started at the beginning of the year, but I’ve dropped off. For most people, writing helps organize your thoughts, helps you remember what you know, and forces you to articulate something that may have been a vague idea in your head. Making kids write the what, the how, the why about what they’ve done mathematically has all of those benefits. While I have absolutely no clue how to teach writing, I need to give it a go.


4) I will get my state teaching license transferred. I love my school and I am very, very happy there on a day-to-day basis. I think I’m planning to be there next year, but every now and then I do hesitate. There are a few factors that I’m still deciding whether or not I can live with, and for right now my plan is to just wait and see how things play out. Unfortunately, without a teaching license, I won’t have the freedom to decide whether I want to stay. (If I’m going to work at a charter, I’d only want it to be my charter.) It doesn’t hurt to get the logistical part done to be safe.


5) I will teach my kids how to fluently add and subtract fractions. Enough said.

2 Responses

  1. Beaver

    #3. excelsior! i am super-lopsided (+composition, -math) and i know that following your idea with an attentive teacher would yield an enormous return. belated merry christmas and happy new year btw to you and your fam :) hope all is well!! still waiting for the response to my burning questions :P

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