#DITL Monday, October 10th, 2016

Today is Columbus Day which means we are out of school. We actually have a 3.5 day weekend. On Friday we had our Regional Teachers Institute until noon. I'm always excited for long weekends so I can catch up on the extra stuff I have to do or put off.

Nothing this weekend went as planned. I did not even touch my school stuff until today. Which was not the plan.

8:48 Wake up. Make myself go back to sleep.

11:00 Wake up again. No shame since I average 5 hours of sleep or less during the school week. Eat breakfast, scripture journal, straighten up the house.

11:45 Get to work on my laptop. Update my trig lesson on finding an angle with trig ratios to include text problems where students have to draw their own diagram, Updated notebook file that goes with it. Create solving trigonometric equations interactive notebook pages, a pong review game powerpoint, and a quiz for my senior math class. Next it's on to Geometry- I update the interactive notebook pages I already made for conditional statements with a foldable I made a few years ago since I feel like it is a better fit. Update notebook file to match. Next create new interactive notebook pages for deductive reasoning, a pong review game, and a quiz.

3:00 Eat lunch while watching Jimmy Fallon. When I'm done eating I walk around the house watching tv on my ipad so I can get steps in. My goal is 12,000 a day and when you don't go to work and spend hours on your laptop, it's hard. When my show is over I start walking around with my Bible...gotta get those steps.

5:15 Back to work. I need to make a practice activity for Algebra I inequality word problems. So I google problems and create...you guessed it- a pong review game powerpoint. It's my go to activity. Then I, you guessed it again- made a quiz. It's almost the end of the quarter so I make up a binder check 'quiz'.

6:00 I have more work to do but I'm running low on motivation so I start wasting time on e-mail and social media. Then I realize I haven't read any blogs lately so I catch up on those.

7:30 I remember I need to create and print posters for our Student Council Socktober drive. Cue google images and pinterest.

8:00 Realize I should eat dinner. Eat while watching TV and again finish my show with walking around the house. I'm only up to 7700 steps.

9:00 Spend 30 minutes doing my workout and walking around for a cool down. Pack my lunch and get my breakfast ready for tomorrow. Pick out my outfit.

10:00 Shower.

10:15 Get out the ol ipad and go for another walk. I walk until I reach my 12,000 goal which brings us to

11:15. I sit down to start this blog post and realize that I forgot about the 92 bell ringers I need to respond to plus the 9 trig quizzes, 10 Algebra 2 tests, and 8 geometry quizzes I have to grade. And I wanted to paint my fingernails.

This was an embarrassing post to write- I don't know if it's because I'm bad at managing my time or because I feel like I have to justify how I spend it. Or maybe it's because my job is like a second job on the nights and weekends. I never feel like I've done enough. Not to mention I have a painting project in my downstairs bathroom that I didn't even get to touch this weekend.

1) Teachers make a lot of decisions throughout the day. Sometimes we make so many it feels overwhelming. When you think about today, what is a decision/teacher move you made that you are proud of? What is one you are worried wasn’t ideal?

Zero teacher moves today.

2) Every person’s life is full of highs and lows. Share with us some of what that is like for a teacher. What are you looking forward to? What has been a challenge for you lately?

I spend so much time putting together notes, practice, and quizzes from my curriculum. It's mostly formatting and copying and pasting. As soon as I feel accomplished for having everything prepared, I start questioning if it's the best way to teach it. I can't feel content.

3) We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is. As teachers we work to build relationships with our coworkers and students. Describe a relational moment you had with someone recently.

I've been getting along better with a colleague at school. Although it's been unintentional, I know that it's healthier. I'm still getting better at laughing and sharing things with the students. Although I've always felt like I shared a lot with students but somehow this year seems different.

4) Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year. What is a goal you have for the year?

Keep working on a better work/life balance. My weekends are consumed with school work in an attempt to free up my week nights but I still can't seem to leave school before 5:00. I do know that next year will be a million times better. With my curriculum, I am finally aligning things in a way I am mostly satisfied with. I'm making notes of things to change or fix for next year and even doing some now if they are quick fixes. NO MORE STARTING OVER.

5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?

I've been teaching trig identities for the first time. I have struggled, actually sat with the kids and worked the problems along with them, and got to the point where I could make up problems for the students to practice.

11:41 Off to do at least another hour of work!


We Don't Know Everything

Reading Dan's post, What Should Math Teachers Do When They Don't Know the Math?, really resounded with me and the timing was ironic.

We were working on constructions in Geometry and we were working through notes from the curriculum. Admittedly, I had not looked made an answer key as I had performed the constructions in past years, albeit not according to these directions.

There was one step I just could not figure out. I read, reread it, positioned my compass, re-positioned my compass. I stopped and stared at it for an awkward amount of silence.

And then I turned around to tell the kids, "We're going to skip this one and come back to it tomorrow."

S: "So you don't know how to do it?"

Me: "No, I'll have to figure it out and then tell you tomorrow."

S#2: "But you're the one who is supposed to be teaching us."

Me: "Teachers are humans too. We don't know everything. Would you rather me lie to you and tell you the wrong way to do it?"

S#3: "Yes. Then we would feel better about knowing how to do it."

Me: *mind blown"

The next day at the beginning of class another student was quick to ask, "Did you figure out that problem from yesterday?"

Me: "Yes I did! Let's start on that one now since some of you were hating on me for not knowing how to do something.

S: We weren't hating....

Me: "How would you feel if I treated you that way when you don't know something?"


And we went on with class and it wasn't brought up again.

So...what do we do when it becomes clear, in front of a class, that we don't understand math like we thought.

Admit it. Show room for growth, Use growth mindset on your own set of teaching skills. Explain your old thinking and how that changed or hit an obstacle. Explain your new thinking.

And the ability to do this comes from the confidence and purpose that you feel inside. It comes from a place of being prepared and experienced. It's embarrassing for like 10 seconds and then my brain switches to "Well, I guess I'm going to learn something new today. Glad I won't have to make this mistake again."

That's worth sharing.

Students aren't used to that at first but the older they get and especially as they advance through higher math with me, I am very open about my math abilities and struggles. This year more than ever I've had students ask me why I decided to teach math and what my favorite subject was in school. I'm open about all of that. I did very well in high school and hit a wall in college. I passed most of my college courses with a C. I don't understand calculus at all. I don't even know how I passed any of those classes. I struggle with trig and some of the more advanced topics in Algebra 2. I used to call my mom every day in college, crying, telling her I didn't think I could do this.

How can I teach math when I don't understand it myself?

And then somehow I wound up in the classroom, magically able to do most of the things I have to teach with ease, and not really knowing how it happened.

But in case I ever forget, there is always a moment like I mentioned to humble me and remind what it is like to struggle, feel unsure, and be embarrassed.

I'm really trying to communicate to my students how important it is to continually better yourself. Not try to just get through things and get things over worth. Not just distract yourself and waste time with social media and video games and YouTube. But to really think about, on purpose, areas of weakness or how to make things better.

I hope it's working.

I hope they see mistakes going hand in hand with success.

I hope they see a real person can be good at their job and make mistakes.

I hope they see that making mistakes doesn't have to ruin your confidence or your day and that you grow because of and in spite of, making mistakes.

I hope it becomes normal and comfortable for them to mess up and see me mess up and learn and go on with our lives.

I just read this quote yesterday but already forgot from where, "Successful people feel comfortable being wrong."

I hope when they see me, they see both.

That's what I'm here for.


#DITL Saturday, September 10th, 2016

My normal routine is to do all my shopping and errands on Friday nights so that I have nowhere to go on Saturdays and I can do all my work and clean all day Saturday.

I have a lunch date with my bestie on the second Saturday of every month so my plans were already thrown off. I thought that I would stay at school and work a lot on Friday, get groceries after my lunch with my friend, then come home and do the rest of my work.

Friday my sisters messages me at the end of school and needs me to baby-sit my niece and nephew. Well there goes my working Friday plans.

My mom sets up a birthday lunch for my Grandma, who is visiting from Florida, for Saturday at 6:00 at a place an hour away.

Well there goes my working Saturday plans.

I am a routine person so I really really really hate when my routine is interrupted by someone other than me.

Routinely throughout the day, I just stopped myself from worrying about school.

Mental speech: "You still have Sunday to get things done that must be done. No, you can't do everything you wanted to do. Yes, you will have to work more weeknights this week than you want to. But enjoy the moment! You are having lunch with your best friend and dinner with your grandma! Those are fun things that you like doing. So do them!"

Even when I am not at school, or doing school work, I'm planning/worrying about school work. But I can't let that overtake my actual life.

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to create a better work/life balance.

I'm doing it.

I'm not perfect.

But I am present.

1) Teachers make a lot of decisions throughout the day. Sometimes we make so many it feels overwhelming. When you think about today, what is a decision/teacher move you made that you are proud of?  What is one you are worried wasn’t ideal? 

I am proud that I chose to put my personal life above my professional life and enjoy my weekend. It was all ideal. =)

2) Every person’s life is full of highs and lows. Share with us some of what that is like for a teacher. What are you looking forward to? What has been a challenge for you lately? 

I am looking forward to a school year when I don't have to slave over everything. A challenge for me lately is getting things done on my plan period. It is the last hour of the day and I am so tired and spent that I zone out on my e-mail and the Internet rather than accomplishing anything. Then I have to stay after school and do it anyway. I feel like I have no time at home and I work late at school and still have things to take home.

3) We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is. As teachers we work to build relationships with our coworkers and students. Describe a relational moment you had with someone recently.

Overall I feel like I am way more open and relational with my students this year. I can think of several moments in the past weeks where I told them stories from my life and we laughed together or when students have asked my advice on clothes or boys or asked me to look things up or give my opinions on the election and so on. One student has been confiding in me about relationships and I've been trying really hard to change her focus and build her confidence.

4) Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year. What is a goal you have for the year?

Keep working on a better work/life balance. Continue asking good questions, asking students to notice similarities and differences, asking students to try a problem before they know what to do, asking for strategies, and doing number talks.

5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?

I've been posting some #teach180 photos and I've never done that before.


Guys, I'm Killing It

I don't know exactly what gave me my teacher mojo back but I definitely know that last year was my seven year slump.

I've had good things that I've wanted to blog every day but my internet has been lame at home and I'm still so tired every day that I've gotten behind.

Day 1 and I already knew everyone's names.

My biggest class is 18 and my smallest is 5.

I've tried so many new things already: number talks, Google classroom, Google forms, a clothesline activity, asking students to notice things before we start working, introducing growth mindset, using my Plickers multiple times, and my questioning skills have greatly improved.

Here are some highlights from the past two weeks:

Using a beach ball every Monday at the beginning of class- we hit it while we talk about our weekends and we stop when no one else has anything to share. This has been a GREAT way to get energy flowing on a Monday and to get more students talking and for longer amounts of time. And almost every class will ask me about my weekend too- maybe to just keep hitting the ball longer.

I asked our tech person about the possibility of sharing some Chrome books with the two teachers who have classroom sets and she showed up at my door the next day with six that are mine to keep, one per table group. I literally teared up at her kindness.

During my growth mindset discussion with my seniors I kindddddddd of went off on a tangent about being a confident woman and how important it is to make being with yourself a safe place and being successful in the future and etc.....when I finally finished a student said, "Wow, you should be like a coach or something." {I've always wanted to write a book and I think I might have just stumbled on the topic}.

I tweeted about my favorite problem of all time and in my freshman class, the first person to get the correct answer was the student who spent the first week of school telling me how math was not her subject and to please not call on her when she doesn't know the answer. I said "I thought math wasn't your thing and yet you were the first one done." She said, "Well I thought it wasn't!" She worked really hard the rest of the class period.

I was talking to a group of students when one almost let a cuss word slip; she cut herself off and said "This is why you shouldn't make me like you so much- then I talk normal around you." Lol

Number talks have been going well but they really prefer dot talks to anything else so far. Some students are purposely counting them in an unusual order just so they can share their thinking. I've had multiple hands go up to share their thinking and it feels like everyone is comfortable with that.

I feel like it was so easy to just jump right into how I want my classes to run- I already feel like I've known my freshman students for a long time and it's such a testament to how being consistent and building routines and procedures can enhance your classroom culture.

I taught the same piecewise functions lesson that I always teach but I started by asking them to notice things about the function and then notice things about the graph. It seemed like the lesson went so much smoother because they made connections all the way through.

It's only week three I know but I haven't really had to beg people to work; I feel like I have a good mixture of students that helped make this happen.

A few students have made real efforts since last year to change their attitude and effort and it's so cool to see them grow.

I feel so blessed to get to be in their lives year after year and to know them so well that I can see change and growth over time. Also after reading tweets and blog posts, I also feel blessed to be in a school that provides me with all the colored paper {and most school supplies} that I want and that my biggest class size is smaller than most people's small class size.

I still love when students come in and love the way my room smells- I didn't it was so odd for a teacher to buy air fresheners. ;)

A student asked me how much I spend on all of this stuff and I just appreciated that she noticed the extra that I put in.

This was the first year I didn't dread back to school time, the first year I had no school nightmares, and the first year {that I can remember} that I don't have that one class that I'm just dreading.

I can't really explain how my questioning skills have improved but it's like I am self-editing in real time- I'll have my next question on the tip of my tongue and it's like my brain says 'Here's a better idea!" and a more interesting question comes out.

Three lessons that I already had resources for meant I could think deeper about how to present them in a more conceptual way- this is another area I see improvement in myself over time.

I still maintain that Jesus gives me supernatural patience and I can feel the moment I enter into it- helping students one on one I always reach a point where I want to walk away and it's like this supernatural patience washes over me and I just continue like nothing happened.

I don't know why but I think it is so cute when students tell me bye as they leave. It's not every student but it's just endearing.

I've started almost every paragraph with 'I' so far but as hard as we are on ourselves, I think we can all stand to brag on ourselves. One of my gifts is making connections with people and I love seeing that come to fruition- this year feels just like a continuation of last year rather than a new start. Maybe it's not the best thing but I felt like starting school as a tee again- I loved hearing the updates of what all my friends did over the summer and what was going on in their lives.

I feel like finally all of my experience and ups and downs and talents and strengths and weaknesses are coming together and I'm approaching the ever elusive peak of 'actually knowing what I'm doing'.

My career is on an uphill swing and that is definitely ONE GOOD THING.


Plan With Me...Infinite and No Solutions

So I'm planning this lesson for the upcoming week and I have 3 slides that I feel like are a good start. I'm just about to tweet them out and ask what I can add to them when I decide to check the MTBoS search engine first. I land on this great blog post about using Desmos to check answers after combining like terms by graphing.

And instantly my lesson just got better. I get to use Desmos for the first time with my freshman and we are just beginning!

Here's a general outline and my thought process.

I will ask students to share out some answers and I will write them on the board. I will have one chrome book per group of three students and ask them to each take turns typing in an expression from the board (I'm thinking 6 so each student types in 2 and purposely include wrong ones).  But what if I don't get very many answers?

I will ask them what they notice as they type in each equation.

We will discuss the connection between the expression and the line.


I will ask students to prove me right or wrong. I'm thinking I'll have to explain that they either need to solve for x or plug in random values and see what happens. Some kind of work will happen which will lead us to graphing it in Desmos and seeing if it is the same line or not.


Some kind of work happening, either with Algebra or Desmos leading up to the fact that they graph two parallel lines which have no intersecting solution and how they simplify to the same slope with different y-intercepts.

Is that it? Now we just practice?

What are some good questions I can ask? What needs to go in their notes?