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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

"I teach a product that no one wants but are forced to buy it!" #iteachmath #MTBoS

I first heard this phrase from Dan Meyer's TED talk many years ago.  At first it made me chuckle but this week this phrase never felt more real to me. It actually got me into a funk. I wanted make a list to help me stay motivated and positive. So without further ado:
  1. Focus on what I can control: As a coach and PE teacher I talk about this concept all the time to my students and players. Would be a good idea for me to practice this concept too. Sometimes after a bad class period that my students were just not motivated I say "well, my students were just not motivated today". Instead I have been trying to tell my self "what could I have done differently to motivate my students". It is also a good reminder that I can't compare myself to anyone but myself. I am my own measure of success. I am not successful if I due better then someone else, which honestly I fall into this trap.  Sometimes I tell myself "well at least I am doing this one thing in my class that this other teacher isn't doing".  Make my best better every day by giving my best effort every day. 
  2. Remember change takes time: I have been doing a lot of things differently this year in my classroom: interactive notebooks, not using the textbook, not putting grades back on work and trying to give diagnostic feedback, not releasing grades until the end of a unit, grades 100% on standards (no more points for busy work), more group work, more open discussion in math class, and celebrating mistakes. Most of this concepts comes from a concept that I want the students' to own their learning and creating a growth mindset. I think all the new things I am doing this year will help in my goals for my students, however, reality is that I do not have buy in from all the students yet. Some days I don't do a good job selling this new way to do math to my kids. Other days I do bad job of motivated my students to stay on task. I give my students a lot of freedom. I tell them "this is your time, don't waste your time". Unfortunately, some students only see value in a task if there is a grade and when I tell them there is no points for this activity they don't want to do it. I need to remember that I do have some students who have been slowly buying into this new concept of how to learn math. I also need to remember my own journey. If I looked back just three years ago at my own math teacher I would be ashamed of myself. However, I did the best that I could in that moment in time. I didn't know any better. every year I felt like I got better and better. My students will be the same way. Just be patient with them and some it might take years for to see real change in their mindset. 
  3. Stay passionate: I can't let any setbacks in class keep me down. I need to keep being passionate and keep reminding myself why I am doing this, to make a difference in a students life. I also need to keep injecting my own passion into my teaching. This would be a good way to make sure students are motivated. 
  4. Be willing to fail: My principal always says "if your going to fail, fail forward!" I need to remember to be vulnerable and make mistakes. I use to say "be seen and not heard". Now I want to be heard so I know what I can do better. I also need to be willing to take feedback.  I need to realize what feedback is important. I think this blog and Twitter has been a good place for me to post my thoughts and ideas and get feedback. 
  5. Keep learning: When I learn my students are the one's that benefit. One of the best things that I have done to help me learn is to start reading. I have read more books this years then I have ever read in my career as a teacher. That is not a great statement but it is progress. Also Twitter has changed my life. I get some of my best ideas on twitter. I also get some great feedback. There is so much free content out there. Educators of no reason to complain about professional development funds. 
Overall I feel that this school year has been a good change with all the things I am trying to do. There is a big part of me that just misses teaches physical education. I am hopping this list will help remind me and direct me to stay on task. 

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