Summer Break: the two words every teacher loves. It's the reward for finishing a hard and long school year. Every year, I feel that summer break is shorter and the school year is longer... that's not healthy, is it??
Especially with the presence of the Common Core standards, work days are almost as long as they were my first year of teaching (when the Common Core didn't exist). Don't get me wrong, however; I am a huge proponent of the Common Core. I think it is critical to get our nation's students prepared for college and an increasingly globalized economy. I truly believe the Common Core was created with the best interests of students in mind - something that's rare in public education nowadays. Teaching with the Common Core has definitely presented more than its fair share of challenges. First, when I was studying at NYU, we did NOT study the Common Core at all, because ... it didn't exist! Over the past two years, I have been figuring out the Common Core largely on my own and with my colleagues. Most of this prep time has taken place outside of school (on weekends) and in my graduate school program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Two years of state test scores show that implementation of Common Core instruction has not gone so smooth in NYC - students, especially African-American and Latino students, are still struggling to meet state standards in both ELA and Math across the board in grades 3-8. 8th grade math proficiency went DOWN this year in the district - to 22.8% proficiency - because 8th grade students taking Integrated Algebra no longer needed to take the NYS 8th grade math exam. My scores are up 15% from last year in NYS 8th grade math, but that amounts to just short of 50% of my students passing. (This puts me in the 92nd percentile for math teachers in the City...) Pretty dismal if you ask me as my goal was 80% last year. But hey, there's always this year ;)
That being said, summer is fading FAST (title is a reference to a song I heard playing in H&M Saturday while doing my Labor Day weekend shopping) and I'm trying to enjoy every minute I have left. Tomorrow I am heading back to school for Chancellor's Conference Day & my first real day as my school's Lead Teacher for math. Because I am a lead teacher, I only have 3 sections this year and NO CIRCULAR 6, which I am both happy and sad about (happy because NO CIRCULAR 6!). As a Lead Teacher, I will be overseeing math education in 6th, 7th and 8th grade and working with teachers to reach the educational needs of all students. I'm really nervous about this role, so I will definitely be updating you guys throughout the year on my progress.
Happy last day of summer, NYC teachers! Here's to a successful 2014-2015 school year!