I got to teach today. And it felt so good.
I haven’t gotten to “properly” teach in over a year and a half now. Since my last long-term substitute gig, I’ve been a teacher’s assistant and have covered and helped out in a few classes at my current school. But I haven’t gotten the chance to truly teach (make my own lesson, deliver it, evaluate my teaching, etc) my own class for awhile now.
At the moment I’m a paraprofessional for a high school student with Cerebral Palsy. I’m in a school all day, everyday. And I’m certified to teach middle and/or high school math in New York State. And I’ve been getting antsy since finishing grad school.
I’ve been applying to teaching jobs for the coming up school year. So far I’ve had 2 interviews at two different private schools in Brooklyn, and both asked me back to do a demo lesson.
So today was one of those demos, and it went really well!
I chose to teach a trig lesson about the basics of the unit circle that included using trig functions like sine and cosine. I can hear your anxious groans and sighs from high school memories of this stuff.
But it went great! Some of the students in the room had not taken trigonometry yet, and others only knew the basics like SOH CAH TOA (which I went more in depth about the meaning of). There were students that were eager to participate, and others that would not have said a word had I not called on them.
One student, while I asked everyone to discuss something with their partner, actually called me over and told me he was very lost. I asked where he got stuck, and he showed me. I re-explained the work we had just done (he got that), re-explained what I was asking them all to do (he got that), and re-asked where he got lost.
I love when that happens! Not only was I really proud of him for admitting he was lost and asking for help, but he also made me think deeply about what I was asking and how to ask it differently in a way that was more clear. He ended up getting it, only taking an extra 30 seconds or so, without me spoon-feeding the answer to him!
The lesson was only 30 minutes long so it definitely flew by. I over-planned, causing me to only get through half of my lesson, but we stopped at a good spot that completed one idea. By the end, everyone understood what we had done and the only questions I received were about my name (whether ‘Chatt’ was English) and about teaching (whether it’s difficult to get a teaching job, especially at certain parts of the year).
I was told my name was awesome (I told them my whole name) and was thanked multiple times by the students. I think I’ll find out any hiring decisions within the next few days at that school so that the math teachers who sat in on my lesson can talk it over and also report to the headmaster.
My next demo lesson (at my current school!) is coming up on Thursday and I can’t wait – it’ll be about area and perimeter, and I’ll throw variables and “real-world” problems into the mix, not just numbers.
I forgot how wonderful I feel when I teach and get to interact with students. Even though I’m the teacher, I come out of each lesson having learned something.
I learn that I sometimes talk too fast.
I learn who needs a bit more time to answer a question.
I learn math in a deeper way so that I can teach it in a deeper way.
It’s a really great feeling and it reminds me that I chose the right profession for me.
Fingers crossed that I get offered one (or both!) of the jobs so that I can continue to grow and learn as an educator and mentor.