A Day in the Life of a First-Year Teacher

Friday, August 30, 2013

Prepping for YEAR #3!

We're back from our little "Tour USA" roommate-bonding-vacation experience! 

Back just in time for the start of the new school year! Apparently, I've forgotten how much work it takes the month of August to prepare for the new school year starting in September. 

On my to-do list this past week and this weekend: 

  • move in all my supplies to my room in the Bronx (shout out to my roomie for letting me borrow his car for this... he's the only one that owns a car out of the four of us in the house) 
  • buy classroom and school supplies (aka deal hunting across four boroughs)
  • get lesson plans finalized, units finalized, IEP's read and discussed, push-in teacher support discussed, Common Core integrated into my lessons, new classroom policies and procedures, class Facebook account updated, student surveys made... 
  • get my first day of school outfit ready!! 
  • meet with my in-school mentor and Teachers College, Columbia University mentor
  • get grad school course schedule prepared and finalized
  • write a letter to parents
  • meet with my principal to discuss goals for this year
  • co-plan lessons with the other teachers
  • meet our school's new teachers for this year
  • hang out with old friends from high school (ahhh they were freshmen when I was a senior! yeah we go back way far!) 
  • analyze scores of my incoming students on their NYS exams and prepare lessons to remedy common errors and weaknesses 
  • rewrite my Integrated Algebra syllabus to update it with changes I've came up with over the summer 
That all being said, I am SO EXCITED TO MEET MY NEW STUDENTS. Unlike last year's students, this incoming group is commended by their 7th grade teachers as well-behaved and eager to learn meaning my job will be significantly easier. Now that I'm entering my third year with 8th graders, third year teaching 8th grade NYS math and second year teaching Integrated Algebra, I no longer have that "first year teacher" feel. The students know me and I already know some of them. And most of all, I feel completely confident in front of the class.

I remember student teaching up until this point in my career now. Each year brings new faces, new challenges and new rewards. 

To supplement my income this year, I am still tutoring GED with the City but also privately tutoring middle/high school math (including AP and SAT/ACT) and middle/high school Spanish (including AP and SATII)... on top of finishing up at Teachers College, Columbia University. 

I'm REALLY going to keep my readers on track this year with my teaching adventures... so consider this the before-school year post:) 

now, time for a nap. i am exhausted. #teacherproblems 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tour USA con los ROOMIES!!!

AHHH! It's the ultimate teacher summer dream! With some lesson planning and preparing for the school year already underway, some summer classes towards my M.Ed. in Curriculum & Teaching from Columbia University (it was Summer Session A if you were wondering...more on that later) completed, my roomies and I are officially planning a trip across the United States! 

If you are new to my blog, I live in a four bedroom house that is shared between three other 20-something professionals and I. There are two males, including me, and two females. Our vacation together will begin this Thursday and will last until Sunday, August 25th. 

Here are our sites: 

-from NYC to the Jersey Shore! 
-from NJ to Boston
-from Boston back to NY (we're playing "tourist") to Washington, D.C./N. Virginia/S. Maryland
-from D.C. to Nashville (country concerts galore!)
-from Nashville to Cincinnati, Ohio (my roomate's boyfriend lives there) 
-from Cincinnati to Chicago!
-from Chicago to Albuquerque (lots of Spanish for a Spanish minor who LOVES Spanish!) 
-from Albuquerque to LA and San Francisco!! 
-from Cali back home :) 

As for my previous mention about grad school... yes, I am going back to school. I'm enrolled in Teachers College, Columbia University. However, no worries, I AM still teaching and plan to keep teaching for at least a few more years after graduating from my M.Ed. program. 

See you soon! I'll try to update on my vacay with the roomies but I'll be too busy having fun. Oh and not too much computer access. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Teachers being moved around

One of the perks of our union contract is that our principal must notify us of our schedule, the classes we will be teaching, sp-ed/ELL population and push-in/pull-out teacher information on or before the last day of school. 

I am remaining in 8th grade next year (three years in a row), with 4 classes of 8th grade math and 1 section of Integrated Algebra. (I had two sections this year but with the low state exam scores due to the implementation of the Common Core, some students had their IA recommendation rescinded since they have to get a level 3 or level 4 for 8th grade IA.) 

2013-2014 school year schedule: 
0- Advisory/Homeroom
1- 8th Grade Accelerated Integrated Algebra
2- planning period
3- 8th Grade Mathematics
4- 8th Grade Mathematics*
5- lunch
6- duty period (TBD)
7- 8th Grade Mathematics
8- 8th Grade Mathematics

*4th period has 6 special ed students and 5 ELL's. There will be push-in support on Tuesdays and Thursdays for sp-ed and on Wednesdays for ELL. 

My amazing colleague of two years now, Miss Gonzalez -- soon to be Mrs. Gonzalez-Fernandez (name changed as usual on this blog) is being moved to 7th grade. Mr. Carter is being moved to a 6th/7th grade split. Mr. Gorbett is staying in 8th grade. Mr. Buchell has been transferred to a different school (FINALLY). A new teacher, Miss Davidson, a first year teacher from Upstate NY and a graduate of my alma mater, NYU, has been hired to teach an 8th grade math/6th grade math split. Surprisingly, my principal even moved my mentor, a rising ninth year teacher from 6th grade to 7th grade in her last year of teaching. What goes on in a principal's mind about moving a teacher's schedule is foreign to me, but somehow, I don't understand why my schedule hasn't been altered severely yet. Maybe I want to ask for new grades during my fourth year of teaching? I wonder what 6th and 7th grades are like... but what if I miss the familiarity that I have developed over the past few years with 13 & 14 year olds? 

Friday, August 9, 2013

2nd year of teaching & how Room 203 fared in New York's Common Core state test!

Ahhh... it feels good to be back to my blog! After a particularly EXHAUSTING school year (which, unfortunately, I have not nearly been able to tell my readers about AT ALL), this summer has been nothing but relaxing, welcome and rejuvenating. 

While some of my classes this year were pleasant and well behaved, two of my five class periods were absolutely horrendous. As in straight-from-the-bottom-of-hell terrible. As any teacher will tell you, in a class of 30 students, only about 10 students are the real troublemakers. In the case of my two classes, a total of FIVE students in each class caused the trouble that I, and my 25 well-behaved, eager to learn students had to deal with. Frequent trips to the discipline AP, who has been nothing but supportive, were necessitated. I even set up meetings with my professors at NYU to discuss their tips for classroom management. My amazing mentor, entering her ninth (and final :( :( ) year of teaching come September has saved my life countless times in my unruly classes.

Both of my unruly classes were the standard 8th grade math class. However, it would not be fair to those classes if I didn't acknowledge all the positive aspects of my students. For the most part, they were bright, funny, eager to learn, perseverant and EAGER TO PLEASE. Never would my friends, colleagues or my family guess how eager to please some of my 14 year old students were! They were always completing their homework (most of the time SHOWING THEIR WORK!!) and even put aside personal differences to work together with their "enemies" during group and partner activities. We had a lot of fun this year and I know I will definitely remember so many of my students - 8th grade math and Integrated Algebra students. (I had one 8th grade math class that was literally ANGELIC. I wish I could loop with them next year in high school. Of course, I wished I could loop with my students from my first year in high school as well.) 

On top of some difficult classes, I had two new big things to worry about this year: New York State's adoption of the Common Core (which all states are adopting next year) and my taking over the school's first 8th grade accelerated Integrated Algebra program. 

GREAT NEWS! Integrated Algebra was a success! Despite hours of planning, conference calls, late nights, early mornings and yes.. some tears as to why I was naive enough as a second year teacher to take over a pilot program at our school -- Integrated Algebra Regents exam scores were absolutely AMAZING. Over 85% of my students will be earning high school credit (some at schools like Bronx Science, Stuyvesant, Townsend Harris...)!!! 

The Common Core -- I had a lot of support with. My mentor, principal, AP, department chair, co-teachers, NYU professors and of course, THE INTERNET all helped me get through the tough transition to the Common Core. NYT/Chancellor Walcott & Mayor Bloomberg and Michelle Rhee have all commented earlier this week about NYC's miraculous state score improvement. We are almost caught up with the rest of the state :) Sad news - I believe the state proficient/advanced rate is 31%. NYT says that NYC's is 29.6%. Our school's rate for ELA dropped significantly to 19% and math dropped to 25%. My students' scores - across the board in all 5 classes- were 40% proficient/advanced, 41% level II and 19% level I. Huge drop from last year... but then again, Common Core's standards are exponentially higher. 

I wonder how this is going to affect my value added/my tenure portfolio... 

I'm really going to go out of my way to blog more next year - I promise! Thanks for reading my newest update :) Check back for more soon!