Here are a few pictures of things that make me happy. :)
My students love interactive notebooks. My students love solving problems on the dry erase pockets. For the most part, my students love coming to math class. It's a beautiful thing. They feel compelled to tell me things like "This class makes my day" or "This is my favorite class."
I have several Algebra 1 classes of students who have previously struggled in math. When these students first came in my classroom, they let me know instantly that they did not want to be there. Math was not something that they wanted to be a part of their lives. I've been going extremely slowly in my Algebra 1 class, and light bulbs are coming on. With lots and lots of practice, my students are finally getting math. They look forward to our practice problems because they are a chance to be successful.
One of my students dropped out of school. The fact that I only have 69 students means that I am able to get to know each one of my students so much better than, for example, when I saw 143 students a day during my student teaching at the middle school level. I know that his dropping out has nothing to do with me, but I still feel partially responsible. The last day that he was at school, I sent him to the principal's office. He wouldn't stop talking while I was trying to give instructions. After asking him 3 times to talk, I decided to fix the problem by moving him to a different table. Upon asking him to move, he replied, "That ain't gonna happen." I'd been working so hard to win over the trust of that class period. I knew I couldn't let him run the class. I had to show that I was in charge. So, I informed him that he would either move to the other table or go to the office. At this suggestion, he gladly decided to go to the office. I never saw him again.
I gave my first quizzes this week. My Algebra 2 students are terribly behind. They are struggling with very basic Algebra 1 concepts such as combining like terms, integer operations, and evaluating expressions. After pleading for help on twitter, a tweep suggested that I start doing Algebra 1 review as bellwork so I could move on with the curriculum and start to cover some actual Algebra 2 concepts. In Oklahoma, students are required to take an End-of-Instruction exam in May.
I tried this, and it really worked. My students had been complaining that we were doing 6th grade math and not Algebra 2. I would love to jump straight into Algebra 2, but my students couldn't successfully complete the review sections of Chapter 1. I think the problem is that, though they are behind in math, they do not realize that they are behind in math. I have students telling me that x plus x is x squared. And a negative times a negative is a negative.
I took a chance and skipped the last few sections of Chapter 1 (solving equations and solving inequalities.) And, I jumped straight into graphing on the day after the quiz. Though this is still review, this is something my students deem to be hard. I've heard "I don't like graphing" several times this week. The students are being challenged, we're moving closer to being able to start actual Algebra 2 curriculum, and the students are still reviewing Algebra 1 as bellwork. This system is working. :)
I can't change the fact that the students at my school are anywhere from 1-3 years behind in math. But, I can decide how I will respond to this fact and use it to guide my teaching. I hope to stay in this town and at this school and help build up our math program.
My college algebra class is not at all what I thought it would be.
I MUST find an organization system that works for me. By the end of the day, my desk is covered with papers. So many papers everywhere...