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!