Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Change of Direction

For those of you who don't know me personally and only know me through my blog, I wanted to let you know that this blog will soon be changing. I am no longer a Math Teacher Living in the 21st Century. I am now an elementary technology facilitator helping teachers integrate technology in the classroom. I will be changing the goal of this blog and will be posting about my experiences in my new role. However, until I get around to that, you can see what fun projects we've been working on at my new school lately. Right now, I can't get many videos uploaded, for some reason, so some posts will be updated as I can figure things out. I am guessing (and hoping) it's just my school filter blocking me, so I will try from home. But, for now, if you're interested, check out Knollwood Technology.

Monday, March 21, 2011

edusolidarity from the other side ... the side without unions.

[Note: This post is not your typical EDUSolidarity Post. This post may anger some people. But, this is my view, from the other side. From a state without unions.]

There is a big band of teachers coming together today in support of each other and unions. They have a facebook page, a website and have each made a commitment to write a blog post on Tuesday March 22nd in support of teachers and unions. I really do commend teachers for coming together and supporting each other and the future of our students. I think it's fantastic.

But ... I can't write a blog post on why I support my union ... because I don't have one. I live in North Carolina and we don't have unions. I don't know what it's like to have a union support me and back me up. I don't know what it's like to do my job for beaucoups of money. I don't know what it's like to have a group stand up and fight for my rights while on the job. I don't know what it's like when piles of work gets loaded on me and people stand up against that.

It must be nice.

I wish I could sit here and write a post on how I feel bad that everyone's collective bargaining rights are being stripped. But, I can't. However, part of me does feel bad. I feel bad that you are losing what you are used to. I feel bad that you may take a pay cut. I feel bad that things are changing so much so that you may have to find another job. I feel bad that your benefits may change.

But, I don't have a union. I am not used to all the pros of them. We are still on a salary schedule, we still have pretty good benefits. I still teach the same things you teach. We all still have the same common goals.

Are my benefits probably changing for next year? Yep. Has my salary been frozen for three years (and probably again next year for a fourth year)? Yep. Would I rather have those tiny changes than the HUGE GIANT change of a JOB LOSS? Absolutely.

Am I strumming my little tiny violin so you feel bad for me? Absolutely NOT. I've made it and I'm still standing on the other side. My meager salary? I make do.

I hope everyone realizes that there are some places that have NO UNIONS and we are doing just fine. Could things be better? Yes. But, are they okay the way they are? Yes.

Do I think the sly moves of Wisconsin government is wrong? Absolutely. Is money a problem this day in age? Yes. Do we need to find a way to balance our state and federal budgets? Yes. Do I think that your collective bargaining rights should be changed? Well, maybe. Most of you probably get paid more than double than I do. Do I wish my meager salary on any of you? Absolutely not. Am I doing OK with that salary? Absolutely. Is the cost of living down here different? Absolutely.

I am really sorry for all that is happening to everyone, but I hope that everyone realizes that it's not the end of the world. If they move to pay by performance (which, I won't even get into those pros and cons of that here and now), I bet some of you will end up getting paid more than what you currently make because you are all amazing teachers.

I lost a LOT of respect for those Wisconsin teachers who walked out of their schools and walked out on their students to protest. I thought we were here for the kids. I thought you took your job to teach our youth. How could you walk out on them over benefits and money? You left them high and dry for a while. That's not fair. What did those parents tell those kids? "Oh, sorry honey, you can't go to school today because your teacher is protesting for more money and better benefits." Are you kidding me? No teacher chooses this job for the money and if you did, then you shouldn't be in the classroom anyways. Get back in the classroom and TEACH. It's your job.

I know many of you feel your rights are being stripped and I am very sorry for that. I am sorry that some of you will have to change jobs because of this. I am sorry that you are upset over this.

I am sure there is more to the story, but this is what I know. A life without a union.

Just know that good 'ole NC is doing alright without unions and we always have done alright.

We are here for the kids, right?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

every end turns into a beginning ...

five days of review left.
four days of exams.
twelve school days until semester #2.

i had a great semester, but i am ready for some new kids.

i have two brand new preps this semester, so this post is a plea ... for ideas, lessons, thoughts.

i've got tech math 2 (harder alg 1 stuff & easier alg II stuff) and advanced functions and modeling (dummied down precal).

i want to make afm totally life based. do fun things. i just need ideas.

happy end of first semester. here's to a grand second semester.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I work at the BEST school ever ...

I really do believe that I work at the best school in the entire world. We're a family. We support each other. We hang out together. We all really do love each other. It's a happy place to be. Yes, we've had a lot of new (and old) things thrown at us this year, but we stick together through it all.

We also have an amazing administration who supports us through anything. I wanted to share this email from one of our assistant principals that we received tonight.

How awesome is he?


The following is a public service message:

All hard working and dedicated teachers, please read the following. I am very worried about you Mr./Ms./Mrs. Hardworkingdedicatedteacher. You always do your job to the utmost of your ability, no matter how hard, no matter how long it takes. You are always reading way too much into emails, directives, and requirements. You always take low scoring kids and make them show high growth on their EOC. And, every year, you always believe that you can't do that again. You always ask me questions about the proper way to evacuate during a fire drill, or apologize to me for asking me to do my job and send in a work order. When Ms. Owens wants it turned in on Friday, you hand it in, perfectly completed, on Wednesday and apologize that you didn't hand it in on Tuesday, You volunteer to do traffic duty every year just to be helpful to me, You always believe that every admonition from the administration is about you when you are, in fact, an exemplar of the right way to do things, You donate money to everyone who is out of work for medical reasons, And, you bring a wheel barrow full of artifacts to your post conferences.

You are also always here late at night and on weekends: running copies, grading papers, coaching, doing laundry, watching film, putting up posters, mowing fields, pressure washing, waiting for kids rides to show up, drilling cadets, arranging classroom seating, working on Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, picking up after kids, scheduling events, creating a yearbook, directing a musical rehearsal, feeding animals, running a dramatic production, watering plants, blowing entire Saturdays at tournaments and contests, putting up decorations, planning trips, driving activity buses, counseling kids, planning an art show, re-imaging computers, holding club meetings, filling out DECs 1-225, researching a new website, painting murals, and taking up tickets at ball games.

In short, you Mr./Ms./Mrs. Hardworkingdedicatedteacher, are a wonderful employee. You are a major reason why Northwest is so great. However, your inner drive to do everything perfectly, is slowly killing you. More specifically, your desire to perfectly complete the new teacher evaluation, TeachScape, new EC Read Aloud requirements, a mentoring program, counting money 25 times and signing your life away when you take up tickets at a ball game (Which, by the way, you always volunteer for), PLCs, Parent emails (Email is a boon to cowards. It makes people who wouldn't normally complain feel brave and fiercely complain.) and the Marzano strategies is actually killing your morale. My advice to you folks is to lighten up a little. You are far too valuable to this school, and these kids to get burned out and leave the profession. Ask McKinney, or Hardin, or Patterson, or Basinger, or Vernon, or Sloop, or White, or Proffitt. They'll all say "This too shall pass." Do a good job, and do what is right. However, don't stress yourself out over these things. It isn't worth losing you over.

In keeping with tradition, the NCHS STAFF is, by far, the best staff in this system, making NCHS the best school. As a token of her appreciation, our leader Ms. Rhymer, (There really should be an equestrian statue of her out front.) will be providing you with some food tomorrow:

During the PLC training you will be provided with drinks and snacks.

For lunch there will be pizza, salad, dessert and drinks in the downstairs office conference room. (The hall door will be unlocked).

Treats, made by our own OCS program, will be in your mailboxes.

On Friday, the PTSA will be serving BO-Berry Biscuits in the teacher workroom.

It isn't much, but it is all presented to you with love, admiration, and respect.

Regardless of how the public treats us, we do one of the most important jobs there is. Hold your head high. You are a teacher at the greatest high school in the World. Hooyah.



Love my school!


Also, here is a reply we got from a veteran teacher:

I was told when I first began teaching in 1981 that there were 3 things that every true teacher must possess: the heart of a child, the mind of a scholar and the skin of a rhinoceros! The most valuable is the "heart". Without thick skin, you just get wounded, but you will recover. Without a sharp mind, you just appear stupid, but you will live through the humiliation. Without your "HEART", you can not survive.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Yes, I am still alive ...

Yes, on this first day of November, I am still alive. You shouldn't be too surprised that I haven't posted since August because well, this blogging thing just hasn't caught on with me yet. What have I been doing?

1. Part-time Math Teacher ... I am teaching two classes (we're on block) ... Foundations of Geometry (part one of year long geometry) and Honors Algebra II. Not too much to say here other than Foundations of Geometry is a major struggle for me and my Honors Algebra II class is HUGE and fourth period AND very smart AND very talkative.

2. Part-time Technology Facilitator ... I am doing my grad school internship. I was super lucky to have a principal that let me go half day to get it done and help the school out. I love every minute of what I am doing technology wise. Offering staff development is the highlight of my job and I want to do this for the rest of my life. I am so happy doing this. Now, I just need to find a place to do it full-time. I got a walkie which is helpful when needing to find people, but that also means it's easy to find me. No comment. :)

3. Grad School ... yep, trying to graduate in December. I've got two classes (one being my internship seminar). The seminar class is just fine, easily floating through that one. The other class ("Planning for Technology"), I was so excited for because of the description but it has actually turned out to be horrible and I am counting the days until I'm done (34 days). So glad this wasn't my first course because I think I would have dropped the entire program. It's THAT bad. I won't get into details, but yay, assuming I don't fail this class, I get to graduate in December.

4. Swim Coach ... still coaching part time at Pfeiffer University. I love those kids with all my life. I don't know what I would do without them in my life and going out there. Yes, it takes up A LOT of time and brings some short sleep nights, but they make my world go round. When I stepped down from high school coaching to go to grad school, I never thought I would be able to fall in love with another team. But, this part-time coaching deal has made me fall in love with these kids. College kids are SO much fun. I can't even explain.

5. Daughter, friend, girlfriend ... these are probably where I am slacking, but I am working hard to find balance in my life. I'll find complete balance soon ... I hope.

So, between all of this, I am rarely on Twitter and not blogging. I do read blogs and sometimes can catch some of my Twitter feed (though that is rare). I am alive. I am trying to make it by. So, bare with me as I finish up things and get my life together.

I am happy and content. I wish there were 30 hours in a day. But, we all make do with that we have. I'll be back, stronger than ever soon enough.

And, hopefully, I'll get to see you all at EduCon 2.3 in January! :)

(Last Minute Realization ... I have 45 followers? What? Man, I need to step up.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Algebra Review in Geometry

Alright mathys ... I could use your help.

As most of you know, I've got Geometry this year. It's not your normal Geometry ... it's like Intro Geometry. These kids will go into "Full Geometry" in the Spring (since we're on block). This is just to build their skills before they get into regular Geometry. So, as you can imagine, it'll be the lower kids with fewer skills (or so I am guessing). So, it's not a full blown Geometry class - just the highlights!

I think that I want to spend the first week doing an Algebra I Review. Make sure they've got some key concepts down before we go into the Geometry. I've got the time, so why not?

I've put together this list of Algebra I Concepts necessary for Geometry (or so I think). I haven't taught Geometry in four years (and when I did, I was a first year teacher, so I don't count that). Will you look at my list and add or take off things?
  • Solving Linear Equations
  • Solving Linear Inequalities
  • Writing Linear Equations
  • Simplifying Radicals
  • Systems of Linear Equations
  • Factoring
  • Solving Quadratic Equations
  • Rational Expressions
  • Literal Equations
What's missing? Or, what do I need to take off?

Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

First Day Blues

I've always struggled with what to do on the first day. @Fouss came up with some great ideas and I have enjoyed reading what everyone else is doing. I'll be honest, I did slightly steal Kristen's idea. But, I'll own up to it, so it should be okay! :)

I spent four days of my summer at a SMART Notebook Training and learned a lot of cool tools that I either didn't know existed OR I had never played around with. So, I figured I would make my first day presentation in SMART Notebook. I have no clue how to embed an interactive SMART Notebook file into my webpage, so I used Jing to video it - with me moving things. Obviously, this two minute video will last WAY longer in my classroom (hoping for 90 minutes!) but it gives you an idea of what I plan on doing. This video is for my Honors Algebra II Class. You'll see it's not 100% done as I don't have a textbook in front of me to make their assignment and the blog is no where near ready. But, it gives you an idea. Also, I love the attachments tab in SMART Notebook because you can upload all necessary docs (or URLS) for your presentation right there, so it's one (easy) click away.

See it here.

The other class I have is Foundations of Geometry. I will be going over the same basics ... they will take the same quiz and create their own numbers. Then, I'm going to have them walk around and get to know each other with this worksheet. But, then I am going to have them write on an index card (in five or less sentences) what they think Geometry is. And, then I am going to have them write down words they associate with geometry on post-it notes. We'll put them up on the board (probably into categories - my units?). Then, they will work on the Who I Am worksheet and we'll wrap up.

Well, there's day #1. How about the other 89 days?