First Year Teacher Blues

You run into class late, apologize to the students for being tardy in a hurried manner, and go straight into a lesson. Everyone starts off by looking at you and paying close attention. Slowly, you see students dozing off, writing in their journals, whispering with their friends, and these are just a couple of the signs that show you that the class in not engaged during the lesson.

You're a good teacher, and you can read your students easily. They need a change of pace, so you quickly tell them what to do for the independent practice part of the lesson.

Your shoulders feel a little bit lighter when the students divert their attention to the independent practice, but you still can't help to think that something is not going right. The students don't look happy. Some are  chatting by the computers, and others do not even have the independent practice handout in front of them.

You are a good teacher so you reflect upon the student behavior. Why aren't they engaged? Did something happen during lunchtime? Was the work too complex?

These questions aren't the only questions going through your head. You're also thinking about when you are going to fill out the monthly class report, check student IEPs, make copies, plan for next weeks lesson plans, prepare the weekly newsletter, and email the parents about student highlights/concerns.

Then you start thinking that maybe you're not a good teacher and you're not cut out to be like that inspirational teacher that you idolized from Freedom Writers.
Suddenly, you look you can connect with these memes, and that depresses you most of all.
Well, I am here to say that it gets a whole lot better after your first year teaching blues. The following image shows the progression of a first year teacher's well being.

It's October now, and you are probably in survival mode now. Right before the Winter break, you will most likely have dreams of going to break and never going back to teacher again. Luckily, something magical happens during Winter break, and you feel rejuvenated. It might be all the sleep, food, and unliminites amount of bathroom breaks you are getting.

It only gets better after that, and the summer in between 1st and 2nd year of teaching is probably the best.

So, I am writing this to give you some sliver of hope and encouragement that it will get better. ��

Teachers Must Respect Their Students Part 2

Hi everybody! I went along and made a video that goes well with the post I had written about This video is down below, and please hit like or subscribe if you would like to see more. :)

Social Justice Education: Intro (Part 1)

A teacher does not become a good teacher as soon as they walk into the classroom on
their first day. Before they walk into the classroom, post their fresh and sparkly bulletin boards, or
create their first pristine rubric for a writing assignment, these teachers have grandeur ideas of what it means to be a teacher.  Sometimes these ideas might not be in sync with reality.  But most of the time they are commendable and worth taking risks for.

Here is the infamous, but oh so true, teacher meme.

Teacher reality?

These teachers wishes and desires stem from the research geared toward social justice in the classroom and vary from teaching tolerance to a multiethnic, religious, socio economic class to offering equal access to a great education for those that might not be offered one.

Now, it is important to note that I am one of these teachers. I knew that I wanted to be a conduit of social justice. This means that as a teacher, I would be forced to teach students with varying backgrounds, and my responsibility is to teach for diversity. In addition, I want to foster a sense of responsibility to others’ suffering. As a social justice worker, I would have to make sure that I have high expectations of all my students, and that I provided the adequate scaffolds for each of them. The following images provide ways of how I scaffold for my students:

Using Sdaie strategies for my wonderful ELs

Practicing speeches before the real deal

Even understanding my students and how they learn best

It is important to note that I have changed my way of thinking. This was how I thought back then.  I am writing all of this, because it is something that I have thought about very often. I have discussed it with colleagues, administrators, and even students, but I never really understood what that all meant until I stepped foot into one of my graduate courses with Professor Brian Gibbs.

That class has truly changed the way I view the teacher’s role, student’s role, and education in general, and it started with the following three articles, “Rigor: We Need a New Definition of Rigor” (Gibbs, 2014), “The History All Around Us: Roosevelt High School and the 1969 Eastside Blowout” (Gibbs, 2014), and “The Story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott Revisited” (Kohl, 2005).   Each article was chosen for specific reasons, but the one thing that they all have in common is that I was absolutely shocked at what I learned from the text.

All three articles changed how I saw my role as an educator, and it flipped my ideas of what social justice teaching is. In the next series of posts, I will discussing my ideas of what true social justice education looks like. Until next time!

The Truth About Fractions: Stop Using Circles to Represent Fractions

Fractions are one of the hardest things for students from 2nd to 12th grade to understand.  It is even hard for many adults to grasp fraction concepts. What makes them so hard? How are we teaching these mathematical concepts that make it so difficult for students to comprehend?

Well, after taking a misrepresentations of mathematics course at my graduate school, my eyes were opened by one of my wonderful professors, Rachel Levy. She informed us that one of the biggest mistakes that teachers make is using circles when teaching about fractions.

Every since I was in school, I remember fractions being represented in circles. Sometimes they would be in the form of a pizza, and sometimes it would be in a cookie. I rarely remember it being represented in any other shapes.

It is nice when the circles are drawn on the computer and electronically, but what happens when a student is working on a fraction problem during a test? The lines will not be as clear as the ones drawn by the computer.  This is what it will most likely look like.

This student was able to fill in the circle to make it equivalent to the fraction, but what happens when the student has to add, multiply, subtract, and even divide fractions? Those fractions will not be as simple as 1/2 and 2/6.  It will also be more difficulty dividing those representations than it would a rectangle.

I propose rectangles because they are a quick, easy, and an accurate way of depicting fractions. It will especially be easier when multiplying, dividing, subtracting, and adding fractions.

Teachers Must Respect Their Students

Respect is a big word in our classrooms. The students are supposed to respect one another, their teachers, and the physical environment. Great teachers spend 2 weeks to 2 months in the beginning of the school year teaching what respect is and what it looks like. A lot of time and effort is spent on teaching students, but sometimes the element that is missing from our classrooms is the respect teachers have for their students.

Now, don't get me wrong! Teachers are wonderful, and  do truly want to be respectful to our students, but sometimes we are disrespectful without even wanting to be. It is completely understandable that students and teachers may not see eye to eye, because we are all built differently. We think differently and act differently because we have all gone through unique experiences that have shaped us to be the people we are today.   Because of these different experiences, teachers may not share the definition of respect the same way the students do.

For this entry, my goal was to create a list of must-do things for teachers to do to make sure that we are respecting our students.

Doing this, is one of the no-nos.
Also not a nice thing to say
Attack the un-desired behavior, not the student.

1. Ask your students what disrespect looks like.

2. Forgive your students when they make mistakes.

3. Leave the sarcasm behind.

4. The rules of the classroom should only be there to create a safe, learning environment.

5. The teacher should make an effort to build a relationship with every single student in the class.

6. Smile, Smile, Smile

7. Extend your please and thank- yous to the students, and they will follow your lead.

8. If the students cannot eat/drink/use a cell phone, then you also shouldn't be doing that.

9. Apologize when you have made a mistake, and thank the students for remaining patient during certain times.

10. Be flexible.

Sneak Peek into my Classroom!

Hey everybody! I wanted to share a little clip of one of my classrooms. It's on my Youtube page , and the video is down below. :)

This lesson was a review for the vocabulary on the cahsee, and that list consisted of literacy terms. I found a list from this website . I handed the list out to my students, and split them up into  groups of 2-3. Each group was also given about 4 terms to make a poster for. The groups/students would then present those terms to the rest of the class. Once the presentations were complete, the students answered questions about those terms on a check for understanding handout.