Saturday, March 8, 2014

My Favorite Classes... to Teach

I have been teaching for six years now.  In those six years I have been at three very different schools.

My first two years were spent in Killeen, Texas at a pretty rough school.  I taught Algebra 2 the first year and this is by far my favorite math topic because it is the first time you get to think in abstract math terms... but for kids who are not strong or interested in thinking like a mathematician it is tough.  This first year I was mostly focused on classroom management and so afraid of mutinies.  I mean, there are 25 of them and 1 of you.  If they really wanted to rebel they could steam roll me in an instant... I still have nightmares where this happens but I don't worry about it as much anymore.  I have developed some tricks to avoid that happening and they are things I learned in this first year of teaching.  The biggest thing I learned is that you can't get respect if you don't give it.  For the first couple of years disrespect was a huge word that would get thrown around a lot.  No one wanted to be disrespected or accused of being disrespectful.

Algebra 2 is still one of my favorite math subjects.  I just love all of topics that are covered and when I was in Korea I really got to go in to the why and not just the how.  I adored this.  We had fun learning that year.  It was great to have students who wanted to know about math and who were willing to think about the math.  I have taught it back in the US and it was a year of showing the kids tricks to get them to an answer which makes me sad but for some students they are just trying to get through and you do what you have to do to get them there.

In Korea, I also got to teach Algebra 1 for the first time and I fell in love.  I love laying the foundations of Algebra for students regardless of how they feel about math PLUS it is the most relatable of all the math subjects to what you would use outside of the math classroom.  I have also found that I LOVE this age of students (8th or 9th grade)... they are fun.  They make me laugh and are willing to go along with the "fun" teacher things I ask them to do without a lot of the sass you get from the older students.  When I first started teaching I really didn't think I would ever like this age so it is funny that I have come to love them.  I am currently teaching this class and it is by far my favorite class periods even the classes with the most challenging personalities in them.

I have taught a math modeling class for students to help prep them for the Exit Level test to meet NCLB graduation standards.   I enjoyed this class but the students were mostly high risk students and some of there stories really tugged at my heart strings and their behaviors definitely story worthy.  We also had a lot of success getting the students ready for the test with a 75% pass rate of my students that year.

Another class that was a fun topic to teach was Quantitative Math... it is a "college" level discrete math class for seniors who don't need precalc in college or life.  I love going through the topics that aren't taught in high school with students that are still important and interesting... like personal finance, statistics, probability, math in art, cryptography, etc.  We also get to do a lot of projects and go at whatever pace we want or need because it isn't controlled by a NCLB test or future class.  But again the challenge with this class is the students who are in it because they don't necessarily like school or math and who are just trying to get a box checked so they can get their diploma... this takes away some of the excitement of the topic.

Precalc was a great class to take but I felt totally unprepared the year I taught it.  I really don't know how well I taught the subject but thankfully I had fantastic students who did a lot of studying on their own.

Rounding out the list of classes I have taught and liked would be 6th grade math... This was my least favorite class to teach, though.  I am just not very good at it because I want to explain either too simply or too complicated... Had a hard time finding a happy meaning.  This age is also the hardest I have had to teach.  They were great kids but just a bundle of hormones that had them confused and feeling out of control.  The kids were stuck between being in Elementary still and being in Middle School... they were constantly in conflict and sometimes that conflict was directed at me.

WAIT! No, the class I like to teach the least is GEOMETRY.  I just don't like it.  Can't draw shapes have a hard time explaining the difference between postulates and theorems and I always take the LONG way to solve proofs.  It is just not my cup of tea and if you ask me I don't get why students have to take a full year of it anyway... you could boil it all down to a semester and give the kids more Algebra experience.

What was your favorite math class to take before college?  If you are a teacher what has been you favorite class to teach?

Here are some random class photos from over the last 6 years of my teaching career.
HA! I AM a professional.

I loved the latin saying for our school on the wall of the cafeteria.

My desk in year 2.

Love this clock.  It has been broken twice and been to Asia and back.

Korean classroom

View from my desk.

My math sign 
A week of lessons

Summer SAT prep class rules.

Tools of the trade.

Students hanging out.

Love spirit and dress up days!

Crazy Hair Day

Me on the far right WINNING the twisting contest.

Quizzing a young student about Pi Day.

<3 student love

Current desk area.

Birthday love.

Architecture of 100 year old school from my classroom window.

1 comment:

Heather Von St. James said...

I have a quick question for you, could you email me when you have a chance? Thanks! –Heather
heather.vonstjames (at) gmail (dot) com