It's been five days and to reassure any new teachers: it get easier. I'm far less exhausted then I remember being the first Friday last year. Lessons are second nature and familiarity with the material is really helping me up my game in the non-math areas of running a classroom. Specifically, laying out expectations, pacing, randomizing, and knowing that "I've shown you, now you show me" is the most important thing in a math classroom. The biggest lesson this week is that there are frustrations that are out of my control, and you have to focus on teaching who you are given, even if budget cuts have left you with five classes verging on 30 kids each. No one is out to get you.

So, rather than turn this into some 10 paragraph treatise on the week, let's run down what I set out to do over the summer and how its going.

Randomizing and Rotating - the StudentPicker app a lovely friend wrote for me is money. No fumbling with popsicle sticks, no updates as the roster fluctuates, and if it hits an empty desk, a redo is instant. It's selected several kids I would not have picked myself. The kids respect the picker. Always set expectations early!

Groups - I'm saving it for week three. Rosters will be in flux until after Labor Day so no need to agonize over balancing groups until the dust settles. However, as my room is set up and waiting, it's easy to throw up a problem set and say "do the one that matches your color" or "matches your number." Kids like it because a 6 problem warm up becomes a 1 problem warm up, I like it because class can move faster (only waiting about 2 minutes for them to work opposed to 10) and when going over a given problem, they're all on edge because they know only 4 or 5 people did a given problem, upping the odds they are called.

WCYDWT - We were covering expressions. I threw up a picture of coins spread all over the place. They asked the question I was looking for ("how much?"), and we covered building expressions and evaluating them with ease.

Boot Camp - Initial returns are very positive. We are easing in and hopefully the refresh will bear fruit when we're knee deep in trig. And the topics have been presented in a "30 seconds of tutoring, now work together" format and the kids have shown excellent determination. Pacing is slower than I thought, and in hindsight, 30 problems on fractions is a lot. And the common denominator of 9, 4, and 7 is 252. Whoops.

Requiring answers in full sentences needs work. Standards testing and my task system instead of homework are on deck.

A trick I've used before but bears repeating, establish over and over again that your room is a safe place, no one's getting yelled at for being wrong. Three or four kids have given wrong answers out loud this week, and we were all able to learn something. And they were ok answering a future question.

The podium shake down cruise exceeded expectations. No more running back and forth to the desk.

AuthorJonathan Claydon