Monthly Archives: June 2014

My Job

In the fall I will be one of four new math teachers in my department, which is pretty unique. For two of us, it’s our first year teaching. There are five returning math teachers, which brings our department total to nine. I’ve met everyone except for two of the other newbies, and I think it’s going to be a really great group. My school has an AB block schedule with five blocks per day, and every other day the department has a common planning time, which is so awesome. I interviewed at a lot of schools this spring, and a common planning time was rare, so I lucked out on that one. I will definitely appreciate being able to plan and reflect with my coworkers regularly.

I’m teaching two classes this year: Geometry and Functions, Statistics, and Trigonometry, also known as FST. The other new teachers and I were presented with the four scheduling options, and the Geometry and FST schedule was my first pick, so I was happy about that.

The district is transitioning to Big Ideas Math (the middle school and Algebra classes already use it), and this year we are getting the Big Ideas Geometry book. I used Discovering Geometry while student teaching and thought that it was a good text, but I have absolutely zero knowledge about the Big Ideas approach. I’d never even heard of them. Do any of you use Big Ideas? What do you think? What have you heard about Big Ideas? Unfortunately, we won’t have the Geometry textbooks and resources until late July, so that makes planning a bit difficult. Luckily, I taught Geometry while student teaching so I have a base to build on.

FST is an interesting class. After Geometry, there are two possible tracks. A student may take Advanced Algebra, and then likely continue on with Pre-Cal and then AP Calc. The other option splits up the Advanced Algebra topics into two classes: Algebra 2 the first year and FST the second year. The purpose seems to be to cover the material at a slower pace, do more review, and cover more topics. So most of my FST kids will be seniors with a  few juniors in there too.

I’ve already met with the other FST teacher this summer, and he kindly gave me copies of the “text” and has told me about the course in general. I say “text” because there is no official textbook for this course, rather some teachers several years ago came up with their own curriculum for this class, so I have the course notes and homework assignments in a big binder. Fortunately, he also gave me a copy of the Discovering Advanced Algebra textbook so I can use their investigations and such. I will also be scouring the MTBoS for good activities,  problems, and investigations.

I feel lucky to be in what seems to be a very supportive and collaborative department. My FST coworker and I are meeting again next week, and he seems very open to new ideas and suggestions and genuinely wants to make the course better. I have a good balance of freedom and structure: I can deliver the content in whatever way works for me as long as we teach the same thing at the same time, use common quizlets (the math department’s formative assessment) and tests, and have the same grading policy. The students’ schedules get shuffled around at semester, so some of his students will come to me and vice versa. I would prefer having the same students all year because switching it up will mess up the classroom culture that we’ve worked to create, but oh well.

So I’ll be working on FST until late July when the Geometry team starts to get together. Lots to think about!

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Hello MTBoS!

After weeks of job interviews, I can now proudly say that I have a job. I will be teaching high school math in the fall, and I could not be more excited. It’s been a long time coming. I finished student-teaching and earned my post-baccalaureate teaching certification back in January 2013, but I spent the last year and a half either traveling or working part-time jobs in the community in a variety of education-related settings. These experiences were very rewarding and enriching, both personally and professionally, but eventually I found myself yearning to get into the classroom and officially do what I was meant to do– teach math.

My student-teaching experience was good, but I didn’t leave it feeling particularly inspired. Fortunately, a little over a year ago I discovered the wonderland that is the MathTwitterBlog-o-Sphere. One day, bored and cruising Pinterest, I noticed some pins from math teachers. One thing led to another, and suddenly I found myself immersed in a world of talented and passionate math teachers. I’m pretty sure Sarah Hagan’s Math Equals Love was one of the first blogs I stumbled upon. From there, I remember reading Julie’s blog, I Speak Math, and Sam’s Continuous Everywhere, Differentiable Nowhere. Then I kept seeing bloggers mention some guy named Dan Meyer, so eventually I made it over to dy/dan. The rest is history. I could not stop reading blog posts and clicking links. I couldn’t believe that such a fabulous resource existed, and I was so inspired. Why didn’t they tell me about the MTBoS in teaching school?!

Fast forward to this spring. Done with long-term travel and feeling inspired by my work at the local Boys and Girls Club and for AVID, I knew it was time to get into the classroom and really make a difference in students’ mathematics education. I applied to 15 math teaching jobs in my area and was asked to do several interviews. As mentioned at the beginning of the post, the job search was a success, and I happily accepted an offer at an awesome school. Interestingly, although not surprisingly, this was definitely the interview that I thought went the best. For what it’s worth (not much), here’s my advice for interviews: be confident and don’t worry about answering every question perfectly– just talk about what you love and what inspires you.

So, here I am! After a year of lurking, I am officially joining the MTBoS. I am so excited to be a part of this community. You’ve already found my blog, and you can find me on Twitter @sailormary13. I’ll be posting throughout the summer as I get ready for my first-year of teaching (ahh! so many emotions!), and in the fall I plan to do this year’s installment of Explore the MTBoS.

-Mary

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