12.30.2016

Am I Basic?

aka Am I a Fraud?

I always laugh at basic white girl memes and how I really am none of them....I don't like coffee, I've never bought anything from Starbucks, I don't really care for tacos or Mexican, I don't feel comfortable wearing leggings in public, I think Uggs are ugly, and I can't do a messy bun to save my life.

But when it comes to teaching...I just realized I might be basic.

I've been proud of myself for using a new curriculum, getting my resources aligned, reinforcing my routines, being organized and keeping my students organized, working less throughout the week, being more open with students....

But has my teaching improved?

I'm not asking higher order thinking questions {maybe I'm not really sure what they are}, I don't use any instructional routines {maybe I'm not really sure what they are}, I don't do any fancy three-act tasks or really any tasks at all {maybe I'm not really sure how to find/make/use them}, I'm not writing comments, I don't do low floor high ceiling, open middle, I'm not using Desmos on a daily basis, my students are creating anything, I'm doing pathetic job with number talks, and I haven't mentioned growth mindset since the first two weeks of school.

I just finished reading and grading all my students' first semester reflection papers and the comments were overwhelmingly positive.

I'm the teacher I always dreamed of being.

Until I met you MTBoS.

My students are happy with me and my abilities because they don't know any better. I'm an improvement over past teachers so they are satisfied.

They don't know what they're missing out on.

But I do.

And I'm not saying that in a feeling sorry for myself  way, just an honest way. This has been one of the best years of my life and I'm happier than I've ever been.

But what now? Where do I go from here?

I'm not sure which area I need the most growth in. I feel incapable of even trying some of the things I listed above, let alone using them in a way that is beneficial for my students.

Which thing would benefit my students the most....that I can actually accomplish?

Can someone just create a to-do list for the rest of my teaching career?

I've been wanting to try national board certification but I'm too scared I will fail miserably because I'm not sure I'm as a good of a teacher as the professional learning standards requires. I would love to present at TMC but I have nothing to present. Every year I find less and less things to even share as a my favorite, let alone present for an entire 30 minutes. You can tell in my blogging that I have less and less to share....I'm using a curriculum so I'm creating less which means less to share.

I feel like I was on the front edge of the MTBoS when it started and now I've been left behind. I don't even get on Twitter anymore because it feels like everyone sharing these amazing projects and lessons and achievements that drown out my basicness. Also it is so filled with politics that I don't even feel safe posting much anymore.

Again, this is not for pity. At all. It's my brutally honest way of evaluating myself, my year, and my career.

How do I go deeper? What's the best route? What is sustainable?

How do I become the teacher I've learned I'm so far away from being?



17 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Don't worry I've been sitting here all week thinking the same things. My students tell me they enjoy my class and how much better I teach things compared to past teachers but I still feel like there is more I should be doing but I have no idea where to start.

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    1. I think I'm going to start with things that I think are my strengths and build out from there. I'm writing a follow up post. :)

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  3. You are just one person and can only do so much. One person cannot be everything, especially all at once. I would say, over all else, prioritize understanding math rather than just remembering the rules. If you can get your students to that point, which is much harder than it seems, that is more important than any number talk or 3-act.

    For example, the quadratic formula. It comes from the process of completing the square, which comes from factoring, which comes from multiplying two linear binomials, which comes from the distributive property, etc... Also understanding WHY our equation must be set equal to zero, first. It's not just because "that's what we do."

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    1. I'm not very good at seeing things big picture and making connections like that. Add that to my list of things to work on!

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  4. I think many teachers on twitter see all the great ideas of others and feel less than. I know i do. There are so many resources, structures, activities etc out there. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be the best but need to be realistic about what can be achieved in the time available. On another note, I have certainly taken ideas and suggestions from your blog and twitter so thanks.

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    1. You are so welcome. And you are right, I have to consider what's sustainable.

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  5. LOVE your honesty! Makes me feel tons better to see so many of my own insecurities also belong to someone else. I pretty much have to force myself to go on Twitter because, although I learn tons each time I do, I have to seriously fight the "I'm not even on the same planet as these amazing math people" feeling I get each time. Looking forward to finding out what you do to go deeper. Happy New Year!

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    1. Well if there's one thing I'm good at, it's being honest! I'm writing a follow up post. :)

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  6. As amazing, creative and focused as you are I can see where you are coming from. The part that you brought up about "higher order thinking" made me really try to reflect again and think about how this year we really have lost a focus on that a bit and I found my own reflection forming from your post. THIS is why I always read what opinions you have whether it is about you or anything that you experience or see. You keep me thinking there is always something more even when my students are saying how great I am or how my work thinks that I'm a solid highly qualified teacher, I'm not challenging myself like I used to. If you are going for that national board certification let me know. I'm interested. I feel like I'm always on an island where nobody even knows about these things. I think that it may be that missing link before I go for my doctorate. I hope that this year I find a way to explore this throughout the rest of this year. Thanks again for a great year of posts. Happy New Year!

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    1. I think I should explain that "we" from this "The part that you brought up about "higher order thinking" made me really try to reflect again and think about how this year we really have lost a focus on that a bit and I found my own reflection forming from your post. " I mean my school/district (we) has lost a focus from pushing content to asking the right "why" and "how" or explaining HOT questions..

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    2. I feel guilty that I haven't posted more often just for you Alexandra! I'm going to apply for NBC funding in February and see what happens. I won't get anything out of it financially from my school or state so I'm hoping to get funding from somewhere or I don't see my self going through with it.

      Higher order questions is the direction, I'm really leaning toward. I'm writing a follow up post. :)

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  7. I've felt the same this year (hence my relative silence on my blog and twitter), but for different reasons. Sounds lame, but one of my goals is being okay with a lesson being okay. It's easy to fall into the trap of comparing lessons I taught and my classroom to the stuff that pops up in my feeds.

    Another goal is finding small ways to improve what I already do on a normal basis. How can I add a student explanation or "rephrase in your own words" type task into a lesson? Can I switch a lesson from me providing students questions to ask about a problem to getting students to formulate questions about a problem? That last question is basically asking, "How can I get students to make higher order questions so I don't have to stress out making them for every lesson?" How can I take that decent or not so decent textbook/workbook problem to the next level? Is that next level an extension question? Is that next level generalizing to another concept or skill? Is that next level critiquing the wording or structure of a given problem?

    Finally, something I've fallen out of doing and need to start again is using my evaluation materials to pick out goals. I don't know if your district uses the Danielson model for evaluation, but I think it's somewhat similar to individual parts of the National Board standards. I know it sounds lame, but I sat down with the Danielson book last school year, read through the distinguished categories for each component, then I picked a couple elements to focus on over the course the year. I chose questioning and seamless transitions, then I looked for resources and workshops to help me see what those "distinguished" practices look like in a typical classroom. Maybe chunking improvement or analysis of your teaching might be a way to break the idea of completing the massive National Board into manageable pieces?

    I've had my doubts a lot this year. I've felt like it's been hard for me to define how I've been growing this year. There's been many days this year where anything I said about my teaching would not have come close to even using basic teacher as a compliment. Don't get down on yourself. I think the fact that you're looking for help in figuring out how you can grow and planning to grow shows you're anything except basic.

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    1. That's such a good idea Tom. We do use the Danielson rubric too; I wish I would have thought of that earlier since this is my evaluation year and my evaluation is January 31st! lol That will definitely help me focus and kill two birds with one stone. I need to change my perspective to 'leveling up' like you mentioned rather than thinking about redoing or starting over.

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  8. Thanks for sharing with such honesty. I find the best teachers are the teachers that are hardest on themselves!

    It sounds like you are doing some pretty amazing things-- and probably doing a lot of great stuff that you don't even think to name because they are "normal" to you, but would be mind-blowing for others.

    Moving practice forward by yourself can be tough. Finding a mentor/coach/trusted admin can be really helpful in setting, working towards, and reflecting on goals. Wondering if you have someone like that you could reach out to. Just sitting down and talking with someone about a goal to work on and create some action steps-- maybe some observations or video taping of lessons. This would need to feel non-evaluative, of course, and really just for your own reflection and growth.

    If you do choose to pursue NBCT (and I think you should!) there are teachers willing to mentor and help!

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    1. I could definitely win the award for being hard on myself. I really appreciate what you mentioned in your second paragraph; I forget to think about that perspective and what I have to offer.

      I don't know if there is a mentor like that in my building but I definitely have a few twitter-mentors and great blog reader-commenters like you guys to help me move forward.

      I feel like NBCT would be a verrrrrrrrrrrrrrry humbling experience and for someone who is very hard on themselves already.....it sounds painful. lol

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  9. I was very impressed by this post, this site has always been pleasant news. Thank you very much for such an interesting post. Keep working, great job! In my free time, I like play game: superfighters2.net. What about you?

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