D is for…{MTBoSBlaugust}

D is for…

Desmos? Like everyone, I super love Desmos, but I’m such a rookie. Plenty of other people have posts proclaiming its greatness!

Debbie? My favorite collaboration partner and partner in crime? You’ll hear from her soon…

Day 1? Tomorrow. But no. Just no.

Diligence? uh… something I have none of.

Dreams? I’ve basically made the same wish on my birthday cake for the same dream to come true for probably at least 15 years. Hasn’t come true yet. Dreams for my classroom might be interesting. I’ll file that one away in case I need it for W is for wishes 🙂

Dude? Because, dude. Where did the summer even go?

Decisions? Because I cannot make one to save my life and a major one plagued my summer with distress.

Delusional? yep….

I chose D is for daunting. No matter who you are or what you teach, teaching is a daunting job. No question about it. The google definition of daunting is, “seeming difficult to deal with in anticipation; intimidating.” Anticipating difficulty and intimidation are feelings I know very well. If you follow me on twitter (why?), you probably have seen me whine all summer about all my sleepless nights. This goes hand in hand with this feeling of the daunting road ahead.

When I started at my school last year, I didn’t really know what the climate of the school was. I had a great friend who had been around there forever and a co-worker who was leaving the same school as me and headed to the same new school. There was also a teacher whose children I had gone to school with growing up. So it was a pretty easy transition. The year went pretty well by all accounts. Teachers and the principal respect me, parents (I think) are happy with me, and well, the majority of the kids love me (thank goodness for 5th graders who are still open to share that love on a daily basis!). So then what is feeling intimidating, or daunting, to me as the new year begins?

I am the math leader of my school. The entire staff refers to me as the token math nerd. I’ve embraced the label. I know it’s given with love. What I didn’t know when I began, was that unlike the rest of the “district,” they had not yet begun to transition to Common Core. I was shocked by this. I had been in the process for I think 4 years by this point. The k-5 teachers, myself included, were given a 1 day PD on EnVisions about 2 or 3 days before school started. It was lame. The school was transitioning away from Saxon. Not only were they going to CCSS, they were also transitioning from a spiral curriculum that they loved, to a linear one for which they were ill prepared. Talk about daunting.

I’m not a coach. I guess I am officially the math “department head,” whatever that even means in a k-8 school. I often wonder what I should be or could be doing to help the other teachers. Does it make me a jerk to assume that they need or want help? I don’t know. I had a small win when the 5th grade teacher asked for some help after a lesson didn’t go well. I had another small win when the 2nd grade teacher said something to the effect of, “well we’re all holding on for dear life, but someday we’ll be like Casey and be able to only use the textbook as a guide.” I appreciated that they noticed that. I’ve had to make one of my mantras, “you don’t hate Common Core, you hate EnVisions. That’s ok, so do I.”

So why is this something that feels so daunting? Because I want to build a very strong math program throughout the school and I feel like it’s solely in my hands. I don’t want it to be – I want it to be a team effort. But how do I make that happen? When I share my enthusiasm, they tease me and (lovingly) call me a nerd. When I was freaking out about my love of fractions last year, and I asked, “how can I make you this excited about teaching math,” and the response was, “it’s not going to happen,” where do I go from there?

After spending my entire summer worrying about textbooks, and then finally realizing that I just need to make like Elsa and let it go, I recently have spent a good amount of time in my principal’s office. Basically, I try to keep to myself at school and like a little kid, the thought of going to the principal’s office terrifies me. But there I was repeatedly over the summer. We had  a lot of good talks about math and CCSS in general. As principals, they were given very little training in CCSS, and he comes from having been an English teacher. Math isn’t his thing. It’s very daunting to have to explain the way the standards were written, what the different pathways mean, etc. In one of the last meetings we had, I ended up sitting there and showing him some different methods of multiplying and why it was so important for the kiddos to see and understand these representations. He was really fascinated and thought it was so cool. I think he’s seeing my desire to want to work with the other teachers. I think he appreciates it. But again, it all feels very daunting to me to turn that desire into reality.

The other thing that feels so daunting is the high expectations everyone has put in front of me. Trust me, I’m SO flattered when parents tell me that they’ve heard I’m so great or whatever. I’m afraid I talk a big game, but I’m not sure that I live up to it. This is something I worry about basically every day. Lots of people have documented their experience with imposter syndrome – hey, maybe that will be my “I” entry 😉 – and I’m no different. It’s scary to know what people expect of me and to not be sure if I can or ever will live up to those expectations.

The last thing that is feeling daunting and feeding my constant anxiety is the dual pathways that we have to teach at my school. We are expected to get my group of kiddos through Algebra 1 in 8th grade. Last year at Back to School Night (the 3rd or 4th day of school), one of the parents introduced herself and immediately asked, “are the kids going to get into geometry?” That was the only concern. It’s frustrating. This is a whole different topic for a different day. I know that in reality, it’s not the greatest idea to smush 4 years of learning into 3. I’ve had that discussion with my principal and he’s going to make me have a parent meeting (YIKES) to explain it all. We have sort of fudged our way through both at my previous school and current school for the last few years. The expectations of the 5+ schools we feed to don’t seem to be in line with my expectations, so we’ve been getting by. But now with the new textbooks we’ve purchased, the pathways are going to be much more clear and much more accountable. I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten through a year’s worth of standards in one year, much less having to combine the 7th and 8th standards into 1 year. Sheesh. Wish me luck on that one… daunting as heck!!!

Sorry – this became super rambling and anxiety filled. But if you have any advice about the accelerated pathway (I’ll never forget at TMC14 when I went up to Kate, shaking with nerves, and asked her something about this. Her response was basically, just don’t do it.), talking CC to parents, coaching when you aren’t a coach, etc, send them along and I’ll be your bff.

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3 thoughts on “D is for…{MTBoSBlaugust}

  1. Sarah G says:

    D is for Definitely relatable!!

    Parents are tough…they don’t think about content, just course title. I have a couple of ideas I’ll write up and try to send you soon.

  2. Debbie says:

    What a brave and honest post. I share your frustration about acceleration and advancing students. What is the trade off – what you are getting and what are you giving up to get it? The standard line is kids need to be in AP Calc their senior year to have any hope of getting into a ‘good’ college. (Sigh…)

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