In my classroom: Counting down and toning up (and I’m almost 40?)

This week was low-key because the majority of the freshmen were gone for most of the week. It was also weird because Tom was also gone for the majority of the week. And what’s funny is that both the freshmen and Tom were in Europe – students were in Berlin and Paris, Tom was in Brussels.

I also realized that we are down to 26 school days left until finals start. Twenty. Six Days. Sure, with finals and stuff, there are 33 or so school days, but still. That’s crazy! My first year teaching is coming to a close!

Spongebob Squarepants marching band celebrating

You know what else is crazy? I had an interesting and hilarious conversation with one of my students about my age. Now, if you know me, you’ll know that for years I’ve had people think I was still in high school based on my looks. Since September, one of my junior boys has commented on how young I seem, how it feels like I’m his age, and how it’s weird that I’m married already. But this week, another student (a sophomore boy) actually thought I was a lot older.

It all started when he was playing a hip-hop song from the 90s that everyone has heard before, but I have never actually heard the song in its entirety – I only know the chorus. So he started playing another song – ‘Jump’ by Kris Kross – and said that if I didn’t know this song, I was definitely not a 90’s kid. I told him I knew it, but I was still pretty young in the 90s.

“Come on, what were you doing in 1993?” he asked, thinking I’d say I was in high school.
“I was four years old; I was born in 1989.” I responded.
“What?! I thought you were born in the 70s! I thought you went to Woodstock and stuff,” he said while laughing. Obviously this kid was joking about Woodstock (I hope…I told him that it was in 1969) but even if I was born in the 70s, I would be pushing 40 by now.
So I said, “Oh? I’m sure you also think I fought in World War II, then?” He just laughed and could not believe I was only 25.

It was so ridiculous. Then he showed me this video of a guy who actually thinks he can sing and dance and things got even more hilarious. Fair warning: it’s painful. Yikes.

So my Algebra I class finished up their ethnic statistics projects on Wednesday – the four of them each presented their projects and the information that they found during research. When the freshmen came back on Thursday, we began our linear functions unit by taking the unit pre-test. We then began the unit by talking about coordinate points, how to write them, plotting given coordinate points, and identifying what a given point was.

My Algebra II class finished up our absolute value unit and will begin reviewing for a test this coming up week. I’m thinking our last unit is going to be trig – we’ll go back to the Pythagorean Theorem, then talk about finding missing angles using trig functions, etc.

Finally, my Math In Everyday Life class worked on giving directions given a map. I screenshotted an image of Google Maps that showed directions from school to a local supermarket and also to a subway station. We then tested their directions and how well they did by following their instructions and seeing if we made it to the store correctly. They’ve realized that they need to be more specific, use left/right instructions, and also use street names. We also continued working on number bonds and they’ve gotten SOOOO much better and faster at identifying the number bond of a given number.

One of the highlights of my week (aside from Tom returning Friday from Europe!) has been that I worked out four times after school. This is actually the second week in a row that Mary and I have done it successfully! And it feels great! I’m so happy that I have a co-worker that I can work out with and trust to push me while also pushing her. We have our set routine, but this week we switched it up by trying a Tone It Up High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) video.

And it kicked our butts. And thighs. And shoulders. And while we complain a whole lot afterward (and sometimes during) workouts, we still keep it up. We’ve both noticed a huge difference in the way we feel and look since we’ve switched from the elliptical to the treadmill, doing speed intervals for 20-30 minutes (level 11, baby!!), so it makes all the pain worth it. Here’s to another four days this coming week!

But first, a relaxing weekend with my husband…cheers!

I got to teach today…

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.