A Day in the Life of a First-Year Teacher

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I'm Back!

After a long hiatus from blogging, let me just say - it feels GREAT to be back again! 

The past few months have been a whirlwind, both professionally (teaching my 8th graders & finishing my master's degree at Columbia University) and personally! 

My students are still funny as ever. Every day I see evidence of hard work, perseverance and dedication. They seek me out if they have any questions. In general, we get along really well, which makes for an amazing classroom dynamic. My students are developing into leaders both in the classroom and outside of the classroom. Not to mention all the slang/"hip things" my students have taught me

I am trying several new things this year, which I believe I mentioned in my last blog post (all the way back from October! ahhh!!). One of the methods that is working extremely well is 360 Degree Math. This is an idea that I borrowed from a Participant Media movie I watched in September called Teach. I highly recommend it for all teachers & non-teachers alike! 360 Degree Math is an idea that I borrowed from Miss Lindsay Chinn, a Denver 9th-grade Algebra teacher. I had full support and funding from my amazing principal for this teaching strategy. Under 360 Degree Math, all four walls of the classroom are installed with white boards. The students all have ownership of a specific section of the classroom and have their own marker. About once a week, my students spend the entire period working on their white boards. Here's what it looks like:

  1. Students work on their warm up as they enter the classroom. Go over warm up as a class.
  2. Students get up and go to their assigned section of the classroom. Rapid-fire practice begins, starting with basic level "easy" questions to boost their confidence. 
  3. Mini-lesson / lesson reinforcement: teacher active component reviewing main concepts and objectives & demonstrating problems that they will encounter on tests, quizzes, the NYS/Regents exam, the SAT, etc. 
  4. 360 math practice using pre-written questions. Teacher stands at the center of the room and monitors all students' progress in "real time." Verifies answers; helps students who are struggling. Students are encouraged to help others around them who may be struggling. 

We still do many of the same activities in my class - including class notes, partner practice and team competitive games... 360 Degree Math is just another tool in my arsenal. Test & quiz grades have increased this year from my first 2 years of teaching, so this is definitely a strategy I plan on keeping :) Thanks, Ms. Chinn! 

It's verified! I am a candidate for spring graduation from TEACHERS COLLEGE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY! 

Ms. Lopez, my principal has also confirmed that I will be recommended for tenure come June!! 

Effective next school year, I will be assuming a position as a Lead Teacher for the math department at my school. This qualifies me for a fairly generous raise, along with a differential for my new Master's degree. Hopefully, all this will be in further addition to a UFT - DOE negotiated raise for our upcoming new teacher's contract! Along with my tutoring income that I make right now, these new raises will put my salary into the upper $70,000s, which means I will be faced with a tough decision between staying with my current roomies in the Queens house share or moving into my own apartment in Manhattan (or Roosevelt Island). What to do, what to do?!?!!?! :( :( But hey... $78,000 gross income at age 24 ain't too shabby. Who says teachers are "poor"?! Plus, I get to make a significant difference in the lives of my 160+ students. 

I'll be back soon, I promise! Thank you so much for your patience! 

-Mr. Yang 

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