A Day in the Life of a First-Year Teacher

Monday, December 17, 2012

When middle schoolers go wild

There's a boy on our team who's... well, let's just say that he's quite overweight. In fact, the other teachers on the team and I refer to him as "the big one" (kind-heartedly of course!). Anyhow, "the big one" is not very well respected by his peers, probably due to his weight. However, in the Bronx, it's not uncommon to see students 10-20 pounds heavier than they should be due to the sparse access to farmer's markets/healthier food options and high presence of bodega food (ex: chips, candy, gum, soda, etc.).

We all knew he was.. ahem.. *big*, but today he broke a new record even for himself. HE BROKE A DESK. IN MY CLASS. IN THE MIDDLE OF A LESSON. All the teachers this morning were a little stressed out because the discipline AP announced that he will be doing a special evaluation on our classroom management strategy/style/technique this week and will have a follow up meeting about classroom & behavior management soon. This is especially stressful for non-tenured teachers because this evaluation is one of many that will go in our tenure portfolios. (I'm up for tenure next year, and so far I've been exceeding expectations, but with the difficulty level of this year's students, I'm a little bit nervous about this upcoming evaluation.) Because this incident was so unexpected, I had no idea whatsoever about how I was going to begin to deal with this situation.

First off, my thoughts ran a little like this:
  1. How can someone as big as him even fit in one of those desks? (We were considering getting him a special desk to avoid an incident like this, but felt that doing so would isolate him and make his "situation" more obvious.)
  2. How in the world do you BREAK a desk?
  3. I wonder if he will ever live this down...
  4. Am I supposed to go and get help? From who? The custodian? Mrs. Brown (our team's science teacher next door)? Mr. O'Klay? (the discipline AP)
  5. This is definitely not one of the things they teach you at NYU Steinhardt School of Education. And Steinhardt has one of the top undergraduate teaching programs.
  6. Okay, the kids are laughing/taking pictures/whispering/taunting right now. Time to take action.
I ended up taking control of my class - silencing them, asking for all pictures/messages on their phones regarding this matter to be deleted, sent "big kid" to my desk for the rest of the period and mandated a "what happened in room 203 today stays in room 203" policy.

But all in all, it was a crazy day. The students never fully got back on task, and when I gave them their groupwork for the period and left the room to report the incident to the custodial office, Mrs. Brown had to come into my room and discipline the students for their (not excactly uncalled for) rowdiness: they RECREATED THE SCENE, continued taunting "big kid" for his accident, mocked his weight and well, did not do any of their groupwork.

Saved by the bell. Not long after I returned, the bell rang. Not too much learning happened the second half of seventh period. However, all teachers have those crazy days... just not many have crazy days like my South Bronx crazy days.

Teachers, any stories about your wild days? :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

First Quarter vs. Second Quarter

Undeniably, second quarter is SIGNIFICANTLY busier than first quarter! (As if you couldn't tell with the significant decrease in blog posts. Hopefully it will get better in the new year? I didn't have my blog running in the beginning of the year last year either...)

This year, being the first teacher in our school's history to teach accelerated 8th grade Integrated Algebra, I have been relegated to creating a school-wide curriculum for Integrated Algebra. It's time consuming, but I know it will save time in future years when (I better!) teach Integrated Algebra again. Also, changes in the 8th grade curriculum and the way our department chair/AP/principal wants to run the curriculum means additional planning for all 5 of my classes.

I find second quarter to be more difficult for the majority of my students, especially in 8th grade. We start hitting some more difficult concepts and sometimes it's challenging for students to keep up with the material. I always offer morning and after school tutoring sessions, but I find that fewer & fewer students are coming. The students that need these sessions the most are the ones that do not come.

Second quarter is also when a lot of families decide to capitalize on lower fares and send their children away to Mexico/Guatemala/Dominican Republic/Costa Rica/El Salvador, etc. to visit family -- for two, three, four weeks at a time - increasing their gap of knowledge during this extended vacation. This was not very prevalent last year, however, this year, I am finding a considerable number (about 3-4) in each class period. In math, it's hard to make up lost learning, which is why I highly discourage these extended trips.

However, on the bright side, teacher collaboration is up from first quarter and up from last year. The newest teacher to the math team, Mr. Gorbett, is AMAZING and highly innovative. Both Miss Gonzalez and I have used at least four of his lesson plans throughout this year. We are sharing more with each other and doing more collaborative work, and the results for our students speak for themselves :)

I am also very proud of Andres, a student in my 7th period Pre-Algebra class. During first quarter, Andres barely pulled a B -- an 80.1% --, goofed off in class and was occassionally disruptive and rarely completed his homework. He is a bright student, however, and the reason why his grade was so borderline that quarter was because, like I said, he ALMOST NEVER completed any homework assignments! I conferenced with him at the beginning of this quarter and we set a goal for classroom behavior and homework completion. Two weeks ago, Andres and I reached our first checkpoint of the quarter. He made it & we celebrated with New York cheesecake and pizza! Hopefully the goal setting and positive reinforcement for performing the correct behavior will influence him to continue this positive habit for the remainder of the year, into high school, and into college.

How's that for an update, guys? Thanks for reading and staying patient with me!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Oh where oh were have I been?

Where have I been? This blog has been empty for over a month! :(

To all my lovely, loyal readers, I am so sorry that I haven't been updating this blog. I would like to take this space to let you know that:

1) I am still alive! I have not been eaten alive by my kiddos yet!

2) I am still teaching in the DOE and loving it.

3) My students have gotten better and I am actually starting to like my first period again... slowly, but steadily they are improving :)

4) I've already been observed and evaluated this year. My principal, Ms. Lopez came in on a Wednesday in November in my second Integrated Algebra class and observed a lesson on solving & graphing inequalities. In my post-observation conference, she went up to me, took my hand and said: "That was one of the best lessons I have seen in over ten years as principal of this school. Thank you so much for everything you do for your students."

Teaching in NYC is time consuming and I have had work PAST MY HEAD every week. However, that's not an excuse to stop blogging. I created my blog so that I could have space to reflect on my teaching, and unfortunately, with all the paperwork, lesson planning, etc. that I have had these past few weeks, not too much reflecting has happened.

I promise (!!!) that I will be better about updating you guys on my teaching adventures! My goal is at least 1 post a week -- hopefully 2 posts from now till the end of the school year.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Election 2012: The 13-Year-Old Version

My kids are very involved in the election. They are showing (relatively early for their age) signs of maturity, decision-making and voter education that is unprecedented for most middle school students. 

They are pretty educated about the issues going on right now and each candidate's position on the issues. 

Now, maybe it's because I'm strongly liberal and so are they, but I'll bet that conservatives would have a soft spot in their heart for my students and their participation in the election process. 

Was I this educated (or, quite honestly, interested?) about politics in 8th grade? Not at all. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

GO. FIGHT. WIN. - a story of school spirit

I have previously discussed on this blog about my shiny-glory days in high school, culminating in being voted as our high school's Class of 2007 "Most Popular Boy". For a brief time period during junior year, I dated our school's head cheerleader. It was a FUN (let me assure you, very fun... from the perspective of a 16 year old) experience, but didn't last very long. And at the end of the experience, I did learn a lot about relationships, why they usually don't work in high school and about members of the opposite sex. No offense female readers ;)

But one of the big things that I do remember from my experience with "Talia" is that cheerleaders have a ton of school spirit. From going to watch her practices to supporting her at our school's Friday night football games, I picked up a lot about what it really took to be a cheerleader - the head cheerleader - or, in other words, the school's "poster girl". This was high school.

My school right now, a middle school in the South Bronx, currently is in a friendly rivalry with a neighboring middle school. I would think it has something to do with gangs between the different neighborhoods, but that's not what the administration wants us to think. Our school administrators are also at it -from competing about basketball scores to NYS scores to which school has the best teachers -the rivalry between adults would seem intense. The students have also picked up on this, and have lately been hard at work brainstorming ways to beat this school (as opposed to, say, doing their homework...). 

Yesterday, I suggested to them: "You know guys, why not beat MS *** by showing them that you guys are better at math?". This was meant to be a joke, more or less, but my 8th graders really took that message to heart: agreeing and working twice as hard as they usually do in an effort to outperform this class. 

When I got home, I made a call to a teacher at this school and laid out the grounds for this "competition", He was thrilled! Clearly, this is a very unexpected occurrence in the school year. Miss Gonzalez and Mr. Gorbett have joined too.

Today, one of the girls in my class made a sign for me to hang up in my room: 


My kids, just like Talia, have a lot of school spirit. Maybe they are more motivated because of gang affiliation (although the vast majority of students from my observation are not affiliated with the neighborhood gang). But most are motivated because they want to show someone they are BETTER. This is an opportunity for them to apply what I have been telling them all along. 

Maybe this should continue for the entire year? I would LOVE to see my kids like this for the rest of the school year. 

May the best middle school win. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Re-Blog: Why Middle School?

This would be how I spend my lunch period on a Wednesday when the other teachers are at their meetings with Ms. Lopez...

The following post comes from John Spencer's blog "The Best Part of Teaching is...". You can find this blog at www.bestpartofteaching.wordpress.com. No copyright infringement intended.

Why Middle School?

For all their awkwardness, they often surprise me with their creatvity
"8th graders are the most understood people on the planet. Perhaps even the universe. Sure, they might talk too loud or tell a sub to fuck off or wear jeans that vacillate between sagging to their knees or skinny jeans that severely limit their movement. True, they have a tendency to be self-centered and to care too deeply about peer approval and to say things that are socially awkward or rude as they try to be ironic or cynical or whatever it is that grownups hold as social capital.

Get past this facade and you’ll see that the act is so opaque that the student becomes transparent. You see the pain and confusion of inhabiting a world of childhood and adulthood. You see the insecurities that they haven’t learned to mask as well as adults. You’ll see that they are misunderstood.

Look even further and you’ll see generosity and kindness. You’ll see an honesty that is rare among adults. You’ll see that they’re just beginning to question the answers after spending so long answering the questions. They haven’t bought into the lie that it must be “practical” to be important. 

You’ll see the dreamers, the existential wanderers, the rule-followers who are now questioning the world of rules that they’ve spent so long serving.

You’ll see documentaries that aren’t professional, but are amazing in their viewpoint. You’ll see murals that aren’t flawless but are beautiful in their flaws. You’ll hear voices passionately pursuing social justice without yet feeling jaded by the system.

And you’ll hear laughter.

You’ll see smiles.

You’ll see why some people have discovered that this age group is the education system’s best kept secret. And you’ll realize why we feel fortunate to have this job."

Friday, October 5, 2012

I always have that one group

This week has been extremely stressful. First, the amount of work (lesson planning, grading, dealing with students, teaching, conferences, etc.) has almost tripled from last week. No, it's not an exaggeration. I find myself running on only about 6-7 hours of sleep this Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and not really engaging in my social life. This is much worse than my first year of teaching and the challenges posed this year are definitely greater.

Day in and day out, the challenges of my first period class this year are showing and growing. I quite possibly believe that this year's first period may be able to beat last year's second period as my WORST class. Not only do I have eleven (a student in 1st period was tested, diagnosed and placed on an IEP on Monday) students with special-ed requirements and IEP's, but I have a group of loud, obnoxious students - both guys and girls - added to my list of troublesome students. Put together, this comes to a total of 16. Out of 32 students. The other 16 students are MARVELOUS, angelic, motivated, diligent and behaved - and I feel really bad that they have to see me in my "not so good" state because of the other difficult half of the class. Don't get me wrong. I have NOTHING against students with IEP's or that are special ed... in fact, some of them are my best students. However, no teacher can contest to the fact that the greater the number of special needs students and IEP's in a class period, the greater the workload and the greater the challenges begin to come out from that class.

In this troublesome group...
  • 3 of the 5 students have F's in the gradebook right now. These F's range from a 17% to a 41%. The other two students have D's, ranging from a 59.6% to a 63%.
  • The students CAN NOT and probably WILL NOT stop talking!! Not when I'm lecturing, teaching, etc. Not in group or partner activities. Not in class activities. Not with the substitute teacher on Tuesday when I had a meeting.
  • Don't even get me started about their ability to stay on task... or how long they have been putting off making up tests, quizzes and homework assignments.
One thing they can be reliable for : showing up in class! They are almost NEVER gone. 1st period is not a pleasant class.

I really want to make this situation better. But for right now, I am so exhausted that I think I might go and take a nap.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

We're On a Roll: The September Update

We are officially three weeks into the school year, and it is at this time that my education professors at NYU would tell me that the "honeymoon period" is over. The students have gotten to know you as a teacher, their classmates, the classroom environment, the workload, the style of the class, style of teaching, etc. and now are ready to "unleash" their true personas.

At this time last year, before I set up my blog, my students already showed me some signs of weaning away from the honeymoon period. Two of my 7th period students were caught cheating on a quiz (OBVIOUS hints were seen, as in one of the girls directly STARING at her friend's answer sheet). In 2nd period, James and the Four Gangstas started climbing their way onto my radar for me to look out for.

Yet, last year could overall be considered a great success. The students performed extremely well on the NYS exam, my class averages were about 8% higher than the class average for the entire school and behavioral disruptions were controllable. Of course, in middle school, where hormones run wild, students quite possibly have attention spans shorter than that of a four year old and education isn't necesarily the top priority, there are bound to be some... entertaining... moments.

However, things are going surprisingly well so far this year! My students are great people (Have I mentioned how HILARIOUS they are? Future teachers, middle school really is a great decision to make!) and are making great strides academically. And while class averages are lower for my regular 8th grade math students, these students are putting in a considerably greater amount of effort and dedication to my class. While only some students last year came to my before/after school tutoring sessions, I can expect anywhere from 25 to 30+ students in any given after school session from Monday to Thursday. Meanwhile, my Integrated Algebra students are true gems :) - very self-motivated, organized, respectful and quick learners! Perfect for being my guinea pigs with Integrated Algebra!

I'm really liking the diversity this year - both with my student population and with the classes that I teach. Even though I'm still fresh and energetic, it feels AMAZING to be exposed to new subjects and new students to teach. It's what keeps us teachers going, right? I really like how I am kind of the "curriculum boss" with Integrated Algebra, since I am the first teacher teaching it in my school and there are no other teachers teaching it! Not having Mr. Buchell as a colleague for pre-algebra/Math 8 is a plus as well.

My principal, Ms. Lopez, continues to be amazing and extra supportive. Mr. Buchell, the discipline AP has been gone for the past two weeks due to an injury, and the school/district has NOT found a replacement yet for him. (Talk about disorganization of the DOE...) Therefore, we have been instructed to try and keep referrals to a minimum and try our very best to handle situations within our own powers/classroom borders.

All in all, a great first three weeks so far! Let's keep it this way for the rest of the year! ;)

P.S. I am so sorry for not writing as much as last year. I will do my very best to get better at updating! A new school year is always a busy time, especially with a whole entire new curriculum, but it will get better as the year goes on, I promise. Stay tuned!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More than just a "student"

I often refer to my students as just "students". See, I just did it twice!

However, as the school year is getting deeper and deeper, I'm finally at the point where I can stop asserting myself as "their teacher" and actually develop myself as a human being, someone who the kids can relate to.

As I get to know my students better, seeing them everyday, watching them, teaching them and getting to know their unique qualities, I have developed connections with the students. Each of my students are unique in their own special ways. I have 150 new students this year - and while some of them have the same name as others in the same class period or in my other periods or even as students from last year, no two students are completely alike. They have their own likes, dislikes, wants, desires, goals, personality, drives, motives and features.

As a teacher, it is my job to make sure I connect with each of my students, making sure that all of them have the chance to reach their potential in my class and get the individual attention from me that they need to succeed. While it's impossible to have every single student like me, and it's impossible for me to like every single student, I cannot forget about my responsibilities as a teacher.

I've spent a lot of time in the beginning of the year developing a "TEAM" attitude in my classroom, and telling my students about how much I believe in them. We watched motivational clips from movies like Walkout and Freedom Writers and discussed them. I want to be a teacher like Sal or Miss Gruwell. But, we are entering the "academic" world now in both 8th grade math and Integrated Algebra. These messages have now taken the backseat to the curriculum.

So far, I'm really enjoying my group of students. But, my students are more than just what I (and every other teacher) call them - they are human beings and deserve individualized attention.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

iPads in the Classroom?

A high school friend of mine who's teaching 6th grade in an suburban Ohio town recently told me that her class uses iPads for Reading and Math as a method to informally check student understanding. (Ohio towns appearently put 6th grade as still part of the elementary school sequence, not the  beginning of middle school like here in NYC.) Her students, already about half way into their first quarter, seem to really enjoy using their iPads for classroom activities, and she has reported that her students' grades and assessment scores are up from last year.

In my professional development course at Columbia, we talked about how we as teachers can employ advanced technology like iPads in our teaching. Of course, most NYC schools aren't able to afford iPads for classrooms.

I'm curious to see what effects the use of technology like iPads would have in my Bronx classroom. Most of my students are not used to ANY Apple product, but many suburban teens have iPhones, iPods, etc., so would they be more receptive to using iPad learning apps? How would my inexperienced students respond?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Los Primeros Días de la Escuela - The First Days of School


At 6:20 Thursday morning, I got up, took a shower and got ready for the first "teaching" day of school.
6:45. Boarded the subway towards Lexington Avenue - 59th Street. 7:00. Transferred trains and arrived in the Bronx.
7:25. Entered the school building, headed up to my classroom to set my things down and get the final touches ready before students entered.
7:45. Head downstairs, socialized with colleagues and school aides and sat down for a brief meeting with Ms. Lopez, our principal, and Mr. O'Klay, the AP.
8:00. The staff meeting ended. We all head back to our classrooms, finish preparing if needed, breathe and do our beginning of the year rituals.
We began the day with homeroom, and then shifted to our classes for the day.

It has now been a full week and two days since the 2012-2013 school year has started. We are OFFICIALLY in the zone! I know all of my students' names, plus a lot of their personality characteristics as well as their strengths and weaknesses in math.

The first three days, I spent a lot of time building a classroom community with my students. I am a strong believer in the acronym TEAM - Together Everyone Achieves More. Both last year and this year, I communicated with my students the importance of the classroom feeling like a family: a place where everyone gets along, is comfortable with each other, trusts each other and builds strong bonds together. I believe that if each of the students in my class are "cool" with one another (as well as with me), the amount of behavioral disruptions will be diminished dramatically. So, on the first day of school, after taking attendance, the students participated in six teambuilding activities - four of them between each other, and the other two including me. Last year, one of the biggest strengths about the year that my students communicated to me was the teambuilding: it set the culture of the classroom and my expectations right from the beginning. The activities (I posted some last year, for new readers :) ), are fun, engaging and effective.  You can feel the environment in the classroom changing and that's a growth I really hope to see continue to develop during the year.

This eventually culminated in a team-wide 9/11 Rememberance service project the students on my team participated in through each of their classes. The goal was to tie in 9/11 and the idea of rememberance to each teacher's content area. The projects were then put together and sent to first responders and families of the victims.

Starting on Wednesday, both my classes started working on bridging the gaps that they might have from 6th and 7th grades that may inhibit their future performance in the 8th grade or Integrated Algebra curriculum. Some of my students are close to grade level, or even on grade level. Others are about 1 grade level behind; the most severe cases range from 2-3 grade levels behind. These students are disproportionally distributed to my first period class. 1st period already has 10 students with special needs or IEP's - enough that the district requires a push-in teacher at least two days of the week. Looks like I know where my hard class of the year is...

As for my classes, I absolutely LOVE them! The students are very pleasant, diverse, funny, interesting and BEHAVED! I think the difference between last year and this year isn't too great - hinting that I'm still on track to having another great year! (I don't know what their teachers last year were talking about... unless they're still in their honeymoon phase.. haha)

Ya Know Gangnam Style?

My second period class is obsessed with Gangnam Style. Some of the students saw PSY perform on the Today Show this morning and could not stop talking about it the ENTIRE period.

One of my students thinks I look like the "head pimp" of Gangnam Style...

"Mr. Yang, are y'all related or something?"

Today, we voted on classroom rewards that the students can earn for good behavior, completion of homework, excellent performance on a test, etc. collectively as a class. Last year, rewards that students voted for were "normal" middle school student wants - parties, food, no homework, homework passes, movie day, etc.

This year, my second period class voted to have me dance to Gangnam Style -- if they earn 100 "points".

What they don't teach you at "X" University School of Education: Teaching is a high risk (in this case a high embarassment...) and a high reward.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It's tomorrow!

Today's the last official day of summer.

New York City public schools are beginning the 2012-2013 school year TOMORROW! Teachers are to report at my school bright and early at 7:30 am. Students are to report at 8:30 am for homeroom. Yikes!!

Goodnight and here's to a wonderful school year! :)

P.S. Let's hope I actually get some sleep tonight.

Monday, September 3, 2012

All dressed up with somewhere to go

Between yesterday and today (yes, some stores in NYC are actually open on labor day!!), I racked up almost $400 in supplies for my classroom.

What can I say? It's the beginning of the year! I remember last year at around this time, I went shopping for my first-ever classroom (back when Teachers' Choice wasn't an option) - but only spent about $250. How in the world did I manage to spend MORE money for my room my second year of teaching?

Well, it's true what they tell you about teaching. It's expensive. Especially when you're teaching in The Bronx, where many students can't even afford to buy school supplies. I learned a lesson from last year - my students need MY supplies to keep them going! So, I worked out some deals with local stores and big stores, and got all the following for my students:
  • 1.5" binders
  • Highlighters
  • Graph paper
  • Notebook paper
  • Mechanical pencils
  • .7 lead
  • Wooden pencils
  • Erasers
  • Highlighters
  • Notecards
  • Divider tabs for their binders
  • Tissues (a BIG must for all teachers!)
On top of that, I had a laundry list of materials to buy for my use during teaching and for the classroom:
  • Folders for each of my five classes for when I have to take home work to grade
  • Post-it notes
  • Two calendars -- one for the room and one for my desk
  • Personal time planner to keep track of everything in my busy life
  • Some new classroom posters
  • Dry erase markers, overhead markers, erasers, etc.
  • Batteries for my timer (another must for teachers!)
  • A kit of back-up lesson plans
  • Tape
  • Grading pens
  • Air freshner (some middle school students do not smell too good...)
  • File folders for each of my students
  • Bulletin board designs - I created a new bulletin board called "While You Were Out...", where I plan on putting missed work and class notes for absent students so that they can easily pick up their materials without all of them lining up to ask me at the beginning of class :)
And of course, some gifts for myself to get me ready for the new year!

While looking over my stats today, I noticed that one of my search links that lead to my blog was "mini fridge for my classroom nyc". Actually, I didn't buy a mini fridge this year, though I do know some teachers who stay "late nights" here and do... maybe next year? hmmm...

4 days!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Back in the groove of things

The school year has officially started for NYC teachers! After about two months away from the classroom (but not away from teaching, as we have all spent at least part of our summers planning and getting ready for the year, mind you), we headed back to our classrooms this week to set up for the new school year (2012-2013!!!).

I have a new colleague for 8th grade math this year - "Mr. Carter". As I previously posted, Mr. Carter is a first year teacher from Chicago beginning his teaching career here at our school in the Bronx. Appearently, Mr. Carter has an AMAZING record as a student teacher with the Chicago Public Schools, and we're very excited to welcome him to our team. This should be a very nice change for our new eigth graders, who (finally!) do not have the risk of getting Mr. Buchell.

In my school, every teacher met with our amazing principal, Ms. Lopez, and our assistant principal (discipline AP), Mr. O'Klay, to discuss expectations they have for us this year, create goals, answer questions, introduce new school procedures, go over test scores, go over our schedules, take a look at our summer prep work, among other things. We met our new staff and did some teambuilding activities as a large group of faculty! Even cuter... Ms. Lopez got us each a t-shirt with "motivational" words on the back and our school's colors - words like "persevereance", "dedication", "initiative", "character" and "integrity" - that define our school's core values. We are to wear our new t-shirt on the first day of school to remind our students of the character traits that we will cultivate in each of them and expect to see from them.

I have my classroom fully set up and ready to go this year. I'm in the same room as last year, so this task wasn't too difficult. All my posters are up and running, my boards are set up, my technology is working (thank goodness), a new Facebook page has been created and all my lesson plans are up on Engrade. I'm very excited to get started with the new school year! After a pretty successful first year of teaching, I am really looking forward to seeing the challenges and successes that I will be faced with my second year. I'm starting to have dreams about my students,and classes, colleagues and the school year... and these anxious feelings are only going to continue to build and incrementally increase up until the night before school... by then, I probably won't be getting too much sleep...

They say your second year of teaching is filled with applying the lessons learned from your not-so-successful lesson plans and days from your first year of teaching. While I have blogged about many of those, I mostly blogged and experienced positive things last year. Is the second year of teaching filled with using that - and cultivating it to make the success even greater? Or was I just lucky last year? After all, it's no secret that my classes and students are harder this year: greater percentage of student discipline problems, lower average NYS scores (some two to three grade levels behind), family problems, HUGE increase in special-ed population, less pull-out support...

How is this year going to go?

Well, at least I know how my schedule is going to go:
0- Advisory
1- 8th grade math*
2- 8th grade math
3- Planning
4- Integrated Algebra
5- Integrated Algebra
6- Lunch
7- 8th grade math*
8- Free: meetings, conferences with mentors, department chair, principal/AP, lesson planning time, occassional duties, meeting with push-in teachers

* Due to higher numbers of special needs students (9 in 1st period and 11 in 7th), a push-in teacher will be provided during these periods specifically to meet the needs for my special-ed/IEP students.
**Many, many goods to this schedule! Maximum of only two class periods in a row (as opposed to three), and average class size of 30 (as opposed to 32).

How is this year going to go? It's going to be what I make of it. Regardless of what they say about my new classes, I'm going to go in just like I did last year. Build relationships and trust with my students. Ensuring that all my students are understanding the material. Going back for them. Being there for them. It's going to be a great year. I'm their teacher - someone they will remember for their entire life.

Well rested and well prepared, I'm back in the groove of teaching :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

So Soon!

In just a little under three weeks, New York City public school students will be returning to the classroom. Seeing bright new faces, reuniting with friends that they haven't seen since school let out June 27th and meeting their new teachers.

For my students, they are beginning their 8th grade year - and their last year at the school (it's a 6-8 program). Which means, for the time being, they're "SENIORS"! At this point in the beginning of the year, they are all over the place in terms of maturity, physical appearence, mental abilities, personality and attitude. Last year, I had some students who were still under the 5 foot mark, and some students who were nearing the 6 foot mark (yeah, I know, that's kind of scary...). They have a whole new chance to redefine themselves as a student and start on a fresh, clean slate.

Many of them have already had their eyes set on their schedules. Snippets of this conversation - "I want Mr. Yang for math next year" - can be heard all throughout the halls. Guess I'm a celebrity in my school! Last year's 7th graders knew about the three 8th grade math teachers and ALL about the reasons why they do not want Mr. Buchell. But what they don't know is that we got a new math teacher (Mr. Carter) this summer who will be joining us! Mr. Buchell is now in 7th grade math for all five teaching periods. (I feel bad for the poor 7th graders.)

3 weeks! I am so excited to meet my new students this year. I'm already dreaming about what my classes will look like and what my students will be like. They have such unique personalities and needs. I'm entering my second year of teaching, which may not sound very impressive to some, but is actually a big jump from entering the first year. Yet, I still feel like I did last year at this time for the most part. Guess that's a good thing right? 3 weeks. 3 weeks until I meet my students, begin my second year of teaching and get back into the "school year routine"! Can't wait! September 6th, come faster!!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Preparing for a year of teaching Integrated Algebra

As I reported at the end of the year, my principal, Ms. Lopez moved my schedule for this upcoming year around a little bit. In 2011-2012, I had five sections of 8th grade math (pre-algebra). In 2012-2013, I will have three sections of 8th grade math and our school's very first (!!) two sections of Integrated Algebra. Integrated Algebra is essentially the equivalent of a traditional Algebra I class here in New York, except intermixed with some geometry, measurement, data analysis/statistics and probability. Integrated Algebra is generally a class for high school freshmen, but is offered in NYC to accelerated 8th grade math students with a recommendation and a test-in.

Starting in late July up till now, I have started to educate myself about what to expect in teaching Integrated Algebra: scowering the NYC DOE website's "educator resources" and reading up all I can about what Integrated Algebra is and how to teach it. I browsed through the item analyses for the past years' Regents exams as well as analyzed previous questions, jotting down teaching ideas and strategies in a notebook. I also attended two professional development sessions on best teaching practices in and tips for Integrated Algebra. Who knew it was so complex? This new placement is definitely a tougher challenge than my first year of teaching - since 8th grade math is a lot more spelled out and easier to understand.

My Integrated Algebra students are in for a very rigorous year - since they have to take and pass both the 8th grade NYS and the Integrated Algebra Regents exam (to get high school math credit). It kinda reminds me of an AP class in high school, where we had to take the Regents as well as the AP test. Back when I was in 8th grade, we didn't even have the option of taking Integrated Algebra in middle school... if we wanted to get ahead in math, we'd have to take it over the summer at a college and test out in school. I know my AP teachers had significantly more work, and I have more work to do in Integrated Algebra than in 8th grade math. But, on the plus side, teaching accelerated students possibly means fewer/minimal behavioral disruptions! I don't know though, because from what I heard from their 7th grade teachers, my 8th graders next year are going to be tough across the board.  :(

The 7th grade math test scores at our school went down this year, meaning for 8th grade math I'm going to have to do more review to get them up to speed. But, because I'm entering my second year coming off a very successful first year and student teaching experience, I feel very confident in that subject. However, I'm still a first year teacher in a sense that it will be my first year teaching (and our school's first year offering) Integrated Algebra. I'm kinda excited to still have that "first year feel" in my attitude though, I believe it helped drive and motivate me to be a great teacher last year. There's a lot to learn (good thing I'm getting a head start now!) and I won't have a colleague to go to this time (well, except for my mentor, but he's never taught this before...) if I need any help, but I am determined to do an excellent job with this class! And, of course, if it doesn't work out, I can always stay with having five sections of 8th grade math.

Last summer, when I was applying to teach in the NYC public schools, I watched the I TEACH NYC recruitment videos from current teachers on their advice for new teachers. An English teacher in Queens said in her video, "... you have to be the rookie of the year, every year." I've always kept that with me, because it's true. Having that mentality drives you do great things. I will always remember this quote during my years of teaching. You have to be the rookie of the year, every year. There's always something you don't know... always something you haven't mastered yet. This year, that "something" is Integrated Algebra. Next year, there's going to be something else. My fourth year of teaching, another thing. Thank you, Ms. Cabrerra-Carrasco!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

New Standards for Teaching Certification

In an New York Times article entitled "To Earn Classroom Certification, More Teaching and Less Testing", NYT reports on how New York and 25 other states are changing the way that traditional-path teachers are being licensed.

When I was in my undergraduate Math Education program at NYU, my professors and advisor told me about how I was required to pass the LAST (Liberal Arts & Sciences Test) a teaching pedagogy/strategies exam and a special exam for mathematics to obtain my licensure in New York. This, along with successful completion of student teaching and my Bachelor's degree, would allow me to find a job as a teacher.

When I first read this, I thought to myself, "Wow! This new assessment system is really really bold." And by all means, I support it. In fact, I actually wish I could have made a video demonstrating me teaching than sit through all those tests. We HAVE to make sure that new teachers are going into the classroom prepared to teach and knowing the realities of urban classrooms and how to reach inner-city students. Teaching pedagogy, theory and methods classes are absolutely necessary as well. And while I was fortunate to be in one of the strongest undergraduate teacher prep programs in the country, many students are not.

Having prospective candidates create a teaching video demonstrating how much they learned, retained and can apply will give principals a panoramic view of that candidate's teaching ability. (Although I sincerely believe Michael Mulgrew is wrong when he says that new teachers leaving schools of education "unprepared to teach is one main reason our attrition rate is so high". The main reason why is because of stress, conflicts with the administration and with colleagues and lack of support in general. The best teachers, the Irreplaceables as they're called by The New Teacher Project, are often the first ones to leave. Get your facts right, Mulgrew!)  With the issue of teacher quality so important, what principal isn't looking for that?

However, why stop here? Why not reform the way that teachers are being trained right now? For example, in college, I had to sit through classes like Calculus 3 and Linear Algebra to complete my 36 required NYS credits in math. Yet, I'm teaching MIDDLE SCHOOL math. None of that really helped me, and quite honestly, a lot of what I learned in those advanced, math-major designed classes has left my system after three/four years. We should be training teachers to review what they learned in school - things they will actually be teaching - like Algebra II, Precalculus, Calc 1 and Calc 2... things they may actually be teaching (if they teach high school that is). NYU had 2 semesters of student teaching, and the benefits of that program was invaluable. Shouldn't every school of education value the benefits and learning experience of student teaching to institute a 2-semester, 2 level program? (Elementary ed students can do a program in two different grades. In a 1-6 certification, maybe do an early childhood (1 or 2) and a middle childhood (4 or 5)).

Teacher ed is a hot botton issue now. I'm really looking forward to seeing what it has in store for us in the future! My oh my, education is a rapidly changing field!

Happy August! 1 month till school starts, and I'm busily preparing for it while enjoying the time left that I have "off"!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Meet Your Colleague Day

Yesterday, I made a trip up to the Bronx to go to the school and pick up my test dividers from the classroom. I wanted to change the design on the outside of my dividers for the start of the new school year and I found a really nice design called "More Math - More Possibilities!". Thanks to my amazing roommate who graciously allowed me to borrow his car for this little trip, I was able to just drive there, load up my dividers and drive back! (Although the rain wasn't necessarily the most welcome...) 

On my way back to the classroom to lock the door and leave, I ran into a nice, young man who was exiting from Ms. Lopez's office out the front door. We talked and introduced ourselves, and I found out that he was offered a position (quite early, I must say) as a math teacher here next year. When I asked what sections he had, my eyes immediately lit up. 5 sections of 8th grade math! "

"Hey, that was my schedule last year!", I told him. "I have 3 8th grade math sections and 2 Integrated Algebra sections this year."

We continued to talk and I found out about his education at Northwestern, what motivated him to leave Chicago (a great city) for New York (an even greater city) and why he wanted to teach in the Bronx. Turns out we had a lot in common!! Best of all, he's replacing Mr. Buchell (who got moved from 6th/8th grade to just 7th grade) next year! Score!! :)  

For purposes of this blog, we'll call my new friend and  the new math teacher Mr. Carter.

P.S. One of the best things about Mr. Buchell moving to 7th grade (a class he has never taught before in his 23 years of teaching) is that he will have to come up with new lesson plans every week, as Ms. Lopez is beginning to check his lessons - maybe ensuring a greater chance that he will actually teach next year? It's a long shot, but, hey, we can all dream right?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer job!

It's already July 19th... how in the world has more than 20 days of summer slipped past me already?? Wow!

But on a brighter note, my summer has been going beautifully (although it's been extremely hot and stuffy).

I never really considered getting a "summer job" during the school year, so I didn't bother to apply to be a summer school teacher. However, as we all know with this economy and not-so-high starting salaries here in NYC, teachers need all the extra dinero ($$$) they can get their hands on. So, I started a tutoring service for families wishing to give their children extra support before moving up a grade level. I have students entering 6th grade all the way to students entering 10th grade from Manahattan, Queens and Brooklyn. No Bronx kiddos though :(. I had always had a summer job while in school and college (Camp counselor! Tutor! Host! Camp assistant director! Personal shopper!) and even had a second job during the school year (GED/GRE tutor), so this isn't anything new to me.

All of my students are bright and motivated. Each of them earned a "B" or higher in last year's math class, so they're not really lacking any skills. And, as a bonus, I'm working with students that I don't see during the year (Caucasian & Asian-American students, etc.), so it's a nice and diverse mix. Another benefit is being able to preview and teach the different curriculums that I'm not familar with (6th grade math, 7th grade math, Integrated Algebra, etc.), which will give me an edge if I ever need to move grade levels at my school. (Even added benefit: I have 2 sections of Integrated Algebra next year, so this is my pre-preparing for that class too!)

My summer job is only 3 days a week, for 4 hours each (I have 12 students :)), which means I still have plenty of time to enjoy my summer and relax!

Teachers/students, how are your summers going? Other professionals, I hope you are still finding a way to enjoy summer... it's such a beautiful season!

NYS SCORES WERE RELEASED YESTERDAY!!! Congrats to all my wonderful students, all the students of New York, and all NY teachers!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer refreshments!

This is one of my favorite drinks in the world! It's healthy, cool, fun and refreshing... and since I live in New York, abundant and CHEAP!! I have a loyalty card at Vivi Bubble Tea in the Manhattan Chinatown and can get a large for only $2.50. Instead of drinking coffee every morning like a lot of my teacher colleagues, I am often seen around school with my bubble tea :) Bubble tea is probably the perfect drink for summer, since it is cold and fruity. In the winter, I sometimes get milk bubble tea without the ice to serve as a coffee substitute. Don't take my word for it though, try it yourself!

Fro-yo is a staple in the New York community. With the famous Pinkberry, most New Yorkers have experienced high quality fro-yo in their own backyards. In the Bronx, a family recently opened a fro-yo place called "Twist-It", which is pretty close to my school and therefore a destination of my many ventures during the year. Fro-yo is a healthy substitute to ice cream, and though I love and eat ice cream too, fro-yo makes you feel better about it because you can barely tell the difference, but you are eating something healthier. Plus, fro-yo gives you the option of adding fun toppings to your dessert - oreos, cereal, gummy bears, fruits, fruits, fruits and much more!

Hope you enjoyed this post and have the chance to experience both of these amazing things!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Re-Blog: Facts about American Teachers

This post was originally published on the blog "The Life of a Student Teacher" on February 11th, 2012. Here is a link to the blog: http://thelifeofastudentteacher-msmilitello.blogspot.com/ 

I found this post concerning the teaching profession in the United States extremely interesting. I think you guys should check it out!

  • Studies prove that a great teacher can impart a year and a half’s worth of learning to a student in one year. source
  • Good teaching over a sustained period can [help students] overcome the disadvantages of poverty. source
  • 77 percent of U.S. adults feel teaching is among the most under-appreciated professions in the U.S. source
  • 76 percent agree that many of the smartest people in society don’t go into teaching because being a teacher doesn’t pay enough. source
  • 46 percent of teachers in public schools leave the profession within five years. source
  • 14 percent of teachers leave the profession each year; in urban districts, the turnover is higher: 20 percent. source
  • High turnover of American teachers costs our country over $7 billion every year. source
  • Teachers are priced out of home ownership in 32 metropolitan areas. source
  • Only 4.7 percent of college juniors would consider teaching at the current starting salary. 68 percent of college students said they would consider the teaching profession if it paid 50 percent more than the current occupations they were considering. source
  • Teachers work an average of ten hours per day. source
  • 92.4 percent of teachers spent their own money on their students or classrooms during the 2007-2008 school year.source
  • 62 percent of teachers have second jobs outside of the classroom. source
  • Monday, July 9, 2012

    Sweet, Sweet Summer

    I'M BACK!!

    Haven't been on the blog for quite some time since summer began.

    I just wanted to let you all know that I am LOVING my summer so far!

    I've been spending many days relaxing and cooling down from a successful but exhausting first year as a teacher in the Bronx. It's a feeling that I never got too much during the year since so much was going on at once, but now, I have a solid 2-and-a-half months of relatively less stress and workload. So far, I used up almost an entire "bottle" of sunscreen after spending so much time out in the city and the (very!) hot sun.

    I'm also doing things that I never got to do during the year as well. Things like being the last one of my roommates to wake up (during the school year I was the first), watching all four hours of the Today show (I miss Ann Curry a lot, but Savannah Guthrie is a good co-host too), checking my Facebook more regularly, staying in touch with friends and family, etc. Yep, this really is sweet, sweet summer!

    Back in elementary/middle/high school, summer was a welcome break from the hassles of the school year. I would hang out with my friends, stay up very late, go to huge parties, work as a camp counselor, be with my family and go on faraway vacations. In college, I spent summers abroad volunteering in Central America and in Africa, catching up on credit hours at NYU, traveling with my family and spending lots of time with old friends from high school that I rarely saw. As a teacher, I LOVE that my schedule is similar to what it was back in school - it's a similar structure and one that I can both get used to and love. Summer is still in its traditional place, and unlike the vast majority of my friends who are still working the same hours now, I am not. Of course, they definitely don't even come close to how much I work during the school year, but now it's a chance for me to get even! :)

    I spent both yesterday and today hanging out with a really good friend of mine, Ryan. In high school, when Ryan was a freshman, I was a junior - but what really surprised me when I first met him was that he was only 8 months younger than me. Ryan was the kid that all the girls really liked: athletic, funny, smart and charming. Ryan also built great friendships, including our friendship. When I graduated, Ryan was still in high school, and we didn't talk as much as we used to when I was just starting out college. I ran into a Facebook status that he posted two years ago and realized that we stopped talking in the midst of our busy lives. Today, I am really glad Ryan and I are still good friends. We're kind of like twins in a way - hey, we both went to the same high school and we were both voted "most popular"! It was really nice to catch up with him and hang out like we did back when I was still in school. Ryan's considering Teach for America when he graduates at the end of the year next year, and I think my crazy stories about my classroom put him over the top! Oh my, if I could be teacher buddies with Ryan someday... #bestfriends #craziness

    Those hashtags not only symbolize my friendship with Ryan, but also mean that I recently joined the TWITTER GANG!! It's something new all right, and I still have a lot to learn but I feel like I'm getting the hang of it pretty quickly. The privacy settings are definitely a lot more clear than on Facebook, so that's really good. Also, I like getting more real-time updates from the celebrities and people that I'm following. And I think my followers like getting more updates from me, since, ya know, updating constantly on Facebook is a social no-no.

    Speaking of social networking, I'm still keeping up with our class page on Facebook that I started this winter! My students are sending me messages about their summers and I'm replying and telling them some things about mine. It's so nice that I get to keep up with them over the break and I've received countless notes telling me that "I'm the best teacher ever" and that the kids were "so so so lucky to have me as their teacher" :) I'm not allowed to be friends with them because of a new NYCDOE policy, but this is pretty close! Hopefully we can still keep up during the school year too...

    I'm also planning my schedule for summer professional development and networking - so I'll keep y'all updated on that. Also, I'm looking into a graduate school program to apply to possibly next summer. Having a Master's degree definitely helps with a considerable salary raise, and although experts and teachers are divided on this, may help make me an even better teacher. So far, I have Teachers College (Columbia University), NYU Steinhardt, CUNY and Hunter on my list.

    Thank you for reading! I hope to keep you updated even more in the future about my summer adventures!

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

    First year... check!

    Last week, I saw my very amazing, soon-to-be high school freshmen students graduate at Hostos Community College. While all of them were dressed up in their graduation robes, the girls with their makeup and hair done, and the boys looking all grown up and professional, they were ready for the biggest day of their entire middle school career: graduation. Some (not all, of course) of their parents and relatives were there to make their graduation special and to tell them about how proud they were of them. Some of these parents were parents I had never seen before: not at parent-teacher conferences, not at Open House... never. Watching my students graduate was very... bittersweet. I visualized how each of them came in to our team in September and how many of them had changed SO much during the course of the year. The graduation speeches were extremely inspring, and students who were voted in one of the 'Senior Superlatives' each gave a short speech to their "graduating" class.

    After graduation, the kids separated into their homeroom classes and walked to the subway station. We took the kids out to Manhattan for lunch and did a couple activities where we got students to think about themselves, about their friends and about their future. One of the activities we did was the "Clique Activity", where we put students into groups that are separate from their 'clique' - so they can mingle and meet new friends they might have never talked to before. I think some of them have some very good new friends!

    On Wednesday, in the midst of all the heat that was going on that week, the students finished their last day of middle school and I finished the last day of my first year of teaching. From the blur of all the things going on that day, I remember:
    • tears
    • food
    • laughter
    • partying
    • goodbyes
    • yearbook signing like no tomorrow
    • picture taking... and lots of it
    • making a very emotional goodbye speech to each of my five classes
    • more tears
    • getting gifts from my students and colleagues
    It was, needless to say, an extremely emotional day. My students - who I had taught and raised like they were my own kids - would be leaving me. But I also knew that my students really respected me as a teacher and as a person... especially the many students who took time out of their busy schedule to write me thank-you cards and give me gifts.

    I too, gave my students a good-bye gift. Each student got a "yearbook" from my class with some of the pictures I took during the year, their class pictures, graduation, prom, etc. Our team treated them to an ice cream party.

    I witnessed my students truly grow up this year. So much that in homeroom, my students and I were discussing the Ann Curry debacle, the Karen Klein bullies, Healthcare reform... things you wouldn't even expect an 8th/9th grader to be interested in, let along to be talking about.

    To any of Mr. Yang's students that happen to be reading this right now: (unlikely since my last name isn't "Yang" and I haven't told them about this blog...)

    Thank you so so so so much for being such a great group of students. I am honored to have worked with you this year, and honored to be a part of your life. I hope that, not only have your skills in math grown, but you have also grown as a person. You have taught me so much about teaching and about the students that I work with... and I sincrely hope I taught you as much as you taught me, though I highly doubt it. I respect and admire all of you, because the challenges that you face day in and day out don't even come close to what I went through when I was your age, or with what I face right now. Your hard work, persevereance, sense of humor, intelligence and optimism really defines who you are. I know that life in the Bronx is not easy, but you are making it work!

    I know ALL of you have what it takes to be successful. I want all of you to go to graduate from high school and go on to great colleges and do great things. NEVER give up on your dreams & don't ever stop dreaming. I am here for you and know that every one of you mean so much to me. I believe in you and don't ever let ANYBODY tell you you can't make it out there!

    Oh, and make sure to come & visit me often! :)

    "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." -Eleanor Roosevelt
    "You must be the change you want to see in the world."-Mohandas Gandhi

    All the best,
    Mr. Yang

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

    The Results are IN!

    I am so proud of my students. I know I say that a lot, but I am extremely proud of them right now.

    Of my 160 students, over 130 of them passed the Mathematics NYS exam this year with a score of a 3 or a 4. Of the 28 students that did not make it to a '3', 15 of them earned a '2' on the test. 50 students were able to earn the highest score, a '4'. That equates to an 82.5% passage rate! (for my first year!) By contrast, only 68% of my students passed their 7th grade NYS exam.

    Between the three 8th grade classes at my school (mine, Miss Gonzalez's class, Mr. Buchell's class), an average of 73% of the students passed the NYS with a '3' or a '4'... THE HIGHEST PERCENT PASSAGE RATE IN THE HISTORY OF THE SCHOOL! :)

    There were definitely some surprises with the scores. One of my brightest students who I thought for sure was going to pass - most likely earn a '4' - only scored a '2' on the NYS. She's extremely smart and hard-working and consistently has one of the highest grades among all of my classes, but I guess she just wasn't having a good day during the test or is the type of student that suffers from test anxiety. On the flip side, three of the "Four Gangstas" earned a '3' on the NYS, which was definitely unexpected.

    Now, I'd love to congratulate and praise myself for yielding such successful scores, and maybe I did contribute to my students' success, but ultimately, it was my students who took the initiative and made the effort to work hard this year. This is their reward just as much - probably more - than mine. I am so proud of all of them for the work that they did this year.

    In the beginning of the year, when I was making my "beginning of the year pep speeches", I told my classes that if they followed my expectations and cooperated with me, that I would be able to lead them to the path of success. One full school year later, this is one of their rewards. They did everything I asked of them and made teaching them a joy. Not only do they have stellar grades and '3''s and '4''s on the NYS to show for it, but they also have the knowledge of the concepts we covered in class, pathways to countless application situations they have under their belt now and the character, moral and teamwork skills that we worked on this year.

    In the end, I know that I helped to challenge my students to be the very best they can be, to show them that they can and should reach their potential, and taught them to never stop chasing their dreams. My students have grown so much this year, and have changed academically, physically and characteristically.

    It will truly be sad to see them go... but I'm proud and confident in each and every one of my students.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2012

    When your teacher sweats, you know something is up

    I can't take this weather anymore. Ughhhh I really can't! I spent half the day - in my classroom - sweating during my lessons. The air conditioning is working on and off and is unreliable at my school right now. And even with the fans blasting cool air in my classroom, and the door wide open, it is still extremely hot in there. The sweating became uncontrollable and visible to my students and it was utterly ridiculous - both how I felt and how much the heat got in the way of my teaching. The students got more and more restless as the day went on, and by the afternoon, they basically refused to participate in our classroom activity. Not that I could blame them, because it's almost impossible to concentrate in that room.

    With sweaty teachers (no, it was not just me, the majority of teachers at our school were sweating!) and restless students, not too much learning got done today. And tomorrow's going to be EVEN WORSE. (Yeah, I know, it can get worse from here???) But I'm gearing up for the fight. I've refrigerated three water bottles in the mini-fridge in my classroom for my personal use tomorrow. I have towels ready and paper towels for my students. As a reward for the kids, I have popsicle sticks (!) for them too.

    I'm going to redo the lesson from today for tomorrow. It's very important, because my students are gearing up for their exit exam from 8th grade Math and preparing for Integrated Algebra next year.

    Goal for tomorrow: keep sweating to a minimum, keep students on task, reward students for being on task and find a way for all of us to cope with the heat. Let's try getting done at least the first three of those goals. :)

    Ahh... I can't believe the year is almost over and SUMMER offically began today!!!