Fan Club #MTBoS30 (5)

This post might as well be named “How my 5th graders feed my inner narcissist on a daily basis.”

My 5th graders are hilarious. More on them another day. Today they decided to make an “official” test to join the Ms. McCormick Fan Club. I told them about how I was unable to join the pierced ears club in 3rd grade and I am still slightly traumatized. I would not want my lovely students to suffer the same fate. They promised a study guide to anyone who requested one.

Here is the “test.” (Updated 6/1 with the MC answers)

  • What are Ms. McCormick’s favorite colors?
    • a. blue and black
    • b. pink and glitter
    • c. white and gold
    • d. yellow, pink, and glitter
  • What is Ms. McCormick’s favorite math company? (this one caused quite a stir, I’ll have you know…)
    • a. desmos
    • b. mathalicious
    • c. with math i can
    • d. envision
  • What is Ms. McCormick’s favorite subject? Explain how you know.
  • What does Ms. McCormick wear every day? (controversial… correct answer is really secret answer e. dress and cardigan)
    • a. cardigan and a skirt
    • b. cardigan and a pair of shorts
    • c. a dress
    • d. a wig
  • What does Ms. McCormick eat for lunch every day?
    • a. bread and lettuce
    • b. pizza
    • c. bread and condiments
    • d. jello
  • What is Ms. McCormick’s goal in life?
    • a. be a contestant on Chopped
    • b. be a cartoonist
    • c. work at Jamba Juice
    • d. be a barista
    • e. be a contestant on Dancing with the Stars

They used my tale of the 3rd grade club exclusion for extra credit –

What grade was Ms. McCormick excluded from the pierced ears club? What word did she use to describe it?

  • a. 3rd and gross
  • b. 5th and traumatizing
  • c. 2nd and yucky
  • d. 8th and amazing
  • e. 3rd and traumatizing
  • f. 4th and kind


Care to join the club? What do you think? 😛

An Interview #MTBOS30 (4)

A few weeks ago a former student of mine friended me on Facebook. She graduated from high school last year, and I had taught her in 7th and 8th grade. Her class was, well, a challenge. Amanda was such a hard worker, and I remember that I was constantly so proud of her work ethic. She was really quiet – the type that you fear goes unnoticed. But I always adored her. After her 8th grade year her 2 little sisters moved from our school to the local public school. I was sad I didn’t get to teach them, too. I was also sad because I always loved when the older siblings came back to visit, but with them gone, Amanda didn’t come back to visit. At the school, every year they hold a Baccalaureate Mass for all the kids graduating from high school that year. I went to see my former students and was so thrilled that Amanda was amongst them!

So last week she friended me and then we chatted on fb messenger for a bit. She’s going to community college and working. She told me she was thinking about becoming a teacher. Of course I swelled with pride! I told her to let me know if there was anything I could ever do to help her out. She told me she actually needed to interview a teacher, and would that be ok. So I’m wimping out on the #MTBOS30 challenge and using the interview as today’s post! If you have anything you think I should share with her, leave it in the comments and I will pass it on!



1 what colleges have you attended?

I attended Boston College in Chestnut Hill, MA. In the School of Education we had to have a double major. My majors were Elementary Ed and Math/Computer Science. That second major isn’t really what it sounds like, so I just usually say it was a math ed major. I stayed at BC for a 5th year program and I got a Masters of Education in Literacy. When I lived in Boston I was certified for Elementary and also as a Reading Specialist.

2 how long have you been teaching?

This is my 15th year of teaching! I am in my 4th school and have done various roles. I started out back in Boston teaching 5th grade for 3 years. When I moved back to CA, I first taught computers and math for 2 years, then back to 5th for one, then I split 5th and did Literature and Social Studies and then had 3 math groups, and finally Library (with 2 math groups). When I started at HT is when I started teaching only math and I’m in my 7th year of doing that.

3 how did you decide to become a teacher?

I don’t really know, to be honest. I guess in some ways it was just an expectation everyone had of me! I would always lead the other little sisters in activities during my brother’s baseball games. I was always kind of the “teacher’s pet,” too. I would always help my teachers with things like seating charts and keeping track of papers and stuff. Everyone always thought I would be a teacher, so I guess I just followed their expectations! I don’t know what I would do otherwise, though, so it fits!

4 how much education is required for teaching?

Because I went to school out of state and went about credentialing differently (not to mention a long time ago), you may want to check with someone else on this! I believe in CA after you have earned your BA you can spend a year in a credential program. After that you have to do BTSA, which you would do through your school district – it’s kind of a mentoring type thing, I guess. In some cases there are combined credential/ Masters programs and I think those take a little bit longer.

5 what are the major duties and responsibilities for an entry level person in the teaching industry?

Again, there may be better perspectives out there for you than mine, because I started off in Catholic school and always have been. Usually it’s a little different. But for all teachers, the major responsibilities include lesson planning and grading and communicating with parents. As a new teacher getting to know the standards and your curriculum is a huge challenge, especially if you are teaching a whole bunch of subjects!

6 what is the average salary range that can be expected in sac area?

You may want to look on-line if you are interested in public schools. Catholic schools are paid significantly less. My guess is a starting salary would be mid 30,000s.

7 what are the opportunities for promotion/advancement in this field?

Basically if you want to advance, you would typically go into administration. I don’t have any desire to be a principal. One thing that is of great interest to me these days is being an instructional coach. I would say that at this point I don’t necessarily have the confidence to pursue that kind of a position, but many of my friends have that kind of a role and I think eventually it would be a great fit for me.

8 what are the positive aspects of teaching?

Oh my gosh – there are so many! My favorite thing about teaching is the relationships I get to form with students. As you know, I typically was able to spend multiple years with the same kids, so I would get to know them really well and they would be part of my life for long after they were in my class! I also love the spark when the students really “get it.” There’s nothing better. I love when someone who has been struggling with something works super hard and they finally are able to make sense of something. It fills me with so much pride to be able to witness that hard work pay off!

9 what are the sources of frustration, disappointment, etc.?

It’s disappointing when you plan something that you think is great and the students don’t react like you would hope. It’s frustrating when students don’t listen. It’s frustrating to watch kids struggle if you are having trouble reaching them because all you want is for the kids to succeed.

10 what advice would you give me if I pursue a future in teaching?

Go for it! Put your heart into it. Join twitter (seriously – the best teacher friends I have I have made through twitter). Try different levels – I never wanted to teach middle school and I love it. Observe as many teachers as you can. Trust your voice and that you have important things to contribute. Laugh. Get to know your kiddos.

I <3 Fractions #MTBOS30 (3)

fraction fun.jpg

No, really. I seriously LOVE fractions.

Want to know why? Read these 2 posts:

Fraction Division via Rectangles

I’d been teaching for a long time before I came across these methods. Finally, it all made sense! We have spent the past 2 days exploring fraction division. It’s seriously my favorite thing. I love that the class came up with so many awesome strategies. One of the boys wanted to share multiplying by the reciprocal. I cut him off (“spoiler alert,” I said) and told him he could share it after we knew what the heck we were doing. He just gave me an adorable smile and said ok. Today after all the sense making, it was him that took a few extra minutes to make the connection between all the different methods (some of which he contributed), to the standard multiply by the reciprocal. I mean, he ended up figuring it out on his own, but watching the process was awesome.

I have 5th grade before lunch. I had a ton of 7th graders coming in to finish a test at lunch. I ran to grab my lunch and toast something and I could not stop smiling about the conversation we had. The 1st-3rd and resource teachers were eating when I walked in. I giddily announced how much fun fraction division is and how much I just loved fractions (and pointed out – no sarcasm at all!). They looked at me like I was crazy. I was legit gushing.

The 2nd grade teacher said it was so nice to have someone who was so excited about teaching math. I asked what it would take to make them as excited as me. The 3rd grade teacher said that would never happen. Ok, it probably won’t because I get *THAT* excited and if someone was more excited, that’d be weird. But still…. The 1st grade teacher said she loved teaching math. The resource teacher said she’d love to learn new things to bring some excitement. I asked if they’d ever heard of number talks. They haven’t.

I’m not a coach. I just love what I do and I want to share that. I need to come up with some ideas of how to light the fire for them and with them. I think a good start would be to ask my principal if I can start staff meetings with a short number talk. Adults are scary, though, so I’m not sure. I’m also not sure if the other teachers would be annoyed at my making them do it. Any advice you have about this and any other ideas to up the excitement level would be so appreciated!



Staff Retreat- #MTBOS30 (2)

Last Friday we had our annual staff retreat. I don’t know how the day has been spent in the past, but we had a lovely day. Earlier in the year I remember at a staff meeting people spoke up that they wanted less being talked at, more chance to talk with. (Go figure) Well, message received, I suppose.

We started the day by going to Mass together. It was the feast of St. Catherine of Sienna. I’m no scholar of the Church by any stretch, but one of my favorite quotes is attributed to St. Catherine: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” While some (ahem, Justin), may think this means God would like us all to be arsonists, I think it means that if we are living our truest life there is nothing we can’t do. If we are living our truest life, we will inspire others. I hope this is the case. I mean, I don’t think of myself as one to really inspire people, but I hope that I am at least someone that my students can look to as someone who is true to herself and what she values. Jury’s out, I guess.

Anywho, after Mass we were meant to go to our 8th grade teacher’s house down the street for breakfast and games and watching a documentary, and then we would head out for lunch. We got to the house and breakfast was being prepared. I found myself sitting on the couch by myself. All around the room there were conversations happening. For the 3rd time in the last few weeks I came to the same realization about myself – I cannot handle crowds. It’s not even that I necessarily don’t like them, more that I feel invisible in them 😛 While I most certainly didn’t feel ostracized from any of the groups, I just didn’t see a place where I fit in well. As much as I like to think I love being part of a big group of friends, it turns out I really don’t. I really want to, though. I even had a hard time one night with this at NCTM when I was with some of my most favorite people. For breakfast I did move out to the patio where I enjoyed sitting and chatting with 2 of the other teachers.

After breakfast we watched a documentary called “The Human Experience” ( The documentary is basically about these 2 brothers who live in a group home. They go out into the world to come to understand different aspects of the human experience. For example, they left their home to live amongst the homeless in the middle of winter in NYC, then they went to a home for abandoned sick children in Peru, and finally they went to Ghana and visited a lepers colony. In each of these situations they met people in some of the worst experiences I can imagine. However, in each, they found happiness radiating from all they encountered. I think that most of us were pretty cynical about sitting around watching a documentary at 10am, but we were all quite moved by it. We were spread around the living room and kitchen. At first no one really knew what to say – were we going to talk about it? Could we even talk about it? One thing we knew was that we all felt awkward heading out to a very nice lunch after that! Finally one of the teachers broke the ice and we did spend  some time sharing our thoughts. I was still quite choked up by it, and couldn’t bring myself to say anything. Another teacher made a comment (I forget what it was, exactly), but Robert’s Shadowcon speech ( came to mind. I’d wanted to share this with the staff anyway, and this sort of gave me my “in.” I couldn’t even talk about it because just thinking about the documentary, Robert’s talk, and this blog post (, plus my general speaking in front of people nerves, had me on the verge of tears. I just told people to expect them in an email! We shared final thoughts, all expressed the elephant in the room – our guilt about going out to lunch, but then headed out anyway.

We enjoyed  a great lunch out on the patio of an old Mexican restaurant. Fortunately, as I was one of the first to arrive, I avoided “middle of the table syndrome.” Lunch was lovely and it was nice just to be able to enjoy the company of the rest of my staff. I don’t usually eat in the teachers’ room because I usually have students in my room. It was nice to have the time together.

Today I shared Robert’s video and Karim’s blog post by email with everyone. I hope that they will take the time to read/ watch. I think both of them are very relevant to what we watched and the conversation that we were having afterwards. I hope they engage in conversation with me about either/ both, and how we might share some of these lessons with our students.

#MTBOS30 – It starts

I’m a sucker for a blog challenge. I don’t know why since I’ve failed the 2 I tried. I guess it’s my constant desire to feel like I belong to something. So if others are doing it, I want to do it, too! I can’t imagine I will do all 30 days, because, reality. But I look forward to the challenge. I have only a few thoughts about what I might be able to share – some thoughts about NCTM and a lesson Robert K shared with me. Perhaps some reflection on the fact that I finish my first year at my 4th school one month from Tuesday. I imagine my favorite class of all time will come up – they graduate high school this month. This year has gone incredibly fast and this month is going to be over in the blink of an eye. Maybe this challenge will help me have it slow down just a smidge….