Not Smart Enough To Teach

This is the comment I just left on @paulbogush's blog:

This is the tweet I just wrote before I read this post:

Currently reading @paulbogush 's entire blog- realizing I can't do this. Not smart enough 2 b a math teacher! I have no clue what I'm doing!

As a first year teacher, I have nothing to fall back on. I want to have a classroom like what I think yours looks like but I have no idea where to begin. I have no experience to draw from and nothing to do if I can't create something cool. I have never experienced the classroom I want to have. I don't know anyone, maybe a few on Twitter, who has the math classroom I want. I can come up with all kinds of ideas for problem-based learning in social studies or english but not for math. Plus I'm afraid if I could create the problems, I wouldn't know the right answer. When I think about how these math concepts relate to real life, sometimes I don't know that they do. Why do I teach what I teach? I don't even teach yet! Grr. I am a combination of terrified, clueless, and frustrated.

I am currently watching @ddmeyer's dy/av videos on vimeo and taking notes. Yes, that is right. Next, I am tackling his blog, where each post usually makes me want to cry, tear my hair out, run away, or a combination of all three.

I have come to the conclusion that I have no clue what I am doing!

I plan on doing a lot of reading, twittering, and learning this summer. I also have to design my curriculum for the year. Where do I start?

The first thing I am going to do is declare "A Deep Thinking Day" (said in a deep-booming-movie-announcer voice). I am going to go somewhere away from my everything where I can be silent and really think about some things. That will be my foundation to start building my teaching curriculum. Here are some of the questions I plan on pondering...
  • What does learning look like?
  • How can I tell that learning is taking place?
  • What should teaching look like?
  • What are the real world/real life/ real job skills I want my students to take from my class?
  • What do I want my classroom to look/feel/sound like? (Thanks to @paulbogush)

More specifically for lesson planning,

  • What is my objective?
  • What’s the best tool for it?
  • Am I using the tool to the best of my ability? (All 3 via @ddmeyer)
  • Will my students like this lesson? (@paulbogush again)

And those are just the basics. Notice that none of those questions involved math.

I feel overwhelmed, lost, confused, anxious, excited, and like I have no idea where to start. But I'll just start here. For now...


  1. You are right where you need to be/should be. I just finished my first year as well, and I look at Dan Meyer's blog with the same reaction you have. The important thing is the desire to make a change and put into practice all the things we learned in school and are continuing to learn about teaching and learning. Good luck with your "Deep Thinking Day" and please share what you come up with! What classes are you teaching/developing curriculum for next year?

  2. I am teaching Algebra 1, Applied Algebra 1 ( a slower paced, less advanced algebra 1) and Applied Geometry 1.

    And I just hit the jackpot with this post on Dan Meyer's blog: The Comprehensive Math Assessment Resource http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=346

    It's got algebra and geometry! Score!

  3. Truthfully? None of us really know what we're doing! And no matter how many years you teach ( I just finished year 13), there is always more to learn.
    BUT, I promise, you already have what you need to become the best - you "WANT TO".
    The important thing is to not beat yourself up with thinking "I could have, should have..."- you did the best you could with what you had. And next year will be so much easier!
    I think there are two keys - Remember what you are teaching - kids (not math or algebra - kids) and never stop learning more. There are so many great books and internet resources about teaching.