Practicum Week 12 & 13

Yikes! The last two weeks flew by. I know that I say that every time I write a post, but I’m amazed every time and find it a little scary. I’m also so busy, I wish I had more time in the day and was actually half-disappointed that today is a holiday because I wish I had one more day to get the stuff I was working on completed! Not really though, I always appreciate a day off.

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Weird Days

There are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know. – Donald Rumsfeld

I had my supervisor in evaluating me today, and I know I shouldn’t get worked up about these things, but I do. Real or perceived, the stakes feel very high for me in such a tight job market, and I really want to shine. That hasn’t happened.

I over-prepared for this lesson. I had a back-up if the LCD projector broke. I made sure I had board-markers and extra pencils and pencil sharpeners if students didn’t bring their own. What I didn’t prepare for was today.

Setting the tone, I stubbed my toe stepping out of the shower and was hobbling around all day. I start off my lesson, about 5 minutes into it, and already I feel like I’ve been up in front teaching for an hour.  The fire alarm goes off and everyone goes outside including me and my supervisor. The chatter outside was that someone had called in a bomb threat, and time goes by with us all freezing outside.  By the time we get back inside, there’s only about 20 minutes left in my lesson. The students settle down surprisingly quickly considering the ongoing drama, and then it’s dead silence. The “warm-up” review questions I had planned taking the first 10 minutes, ended up taking the whole class, with me at the front yammering away and poking and prodding the students to get answers . Sigh, definitely not my best lesson.

Anyways, my supervisor takes off a couple minutes early because he has to supervise another student-teacher in the same school. I’m supposed to meet him in a hour during lunch hour, but then during the next class, while he was supervising the other student teacher, the fire alarm goes off again! This time someone set a fire in the bathroom, and the result is we’re all sent home for the day.

There is a silver lining. I spoke to my supervisor on the phone and he wasn’t too concerned about it and he told me he has enough to write me a report. Expect the unexpected.  I’m just glad today is over.

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MacLean’s – Why is it your job to teach your children math?

A recent article in MacLean’s Magazine (the Canuck equivalent of Time or The Economist) questions math curriculum reform. The gist of the article is that the math curriculum reform has created a confusing and over-complicated curriculum where neither teachers nor parents can keep up.  A concerned coalition of parents and professionals, called the Western Initiative for Strengthening Education in Math (WISE), is pushing for reform that would return to teaching fundamentals and standard algorithms.

John Scammell had previously taken WISE  to task in this blog post, sparking some good conversation that included some participation from WISE members.

I have mixed feelings myself, and the article is obviously full of hyperbole. They mention an engineer who spends 2 hours every night re-learning his children’s math so he could help them with it, which is something I find hard to believe.  However, there’s something to be said for simplicity. If teachers are not so comfortable with math themselves, and try teaching non-standard algorithms as rigidly as they teach standard algorithms, I could see that causing a lot of the confusion and creating more problems than it solves.  I also believe discipline and practice is something that we underrate in our math education.

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Practicum Week 10 & 11

Well, blogging is kind of like going to the gym. It’s hard to get back into it once you take a break.  I don’t have much to say in this post so consider it equivalent to a light workout, just to get back into it.

To be honest, there’s not a lot that’s new, really, and I’m so busy these days that reflection is the least of my concerns. It’s hard to keep up, and it feels like I’m constantly one step behind. I may only be practice-teaching, but I can already empathize with first year teachers.

My big thing right now is that I have four weeks of teaching left and I’m trying to relax and just enjoy them. There’s something to be said for being relaxed as a teacher, because you set the class tone.  It’s not easy though. With the last few months of the program fading, and hard decisions and lots of personal and career changes coming up, I feel like I’m in a little bit of a pressure-cooker at the moment.

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Taking a Break

I’m going to take a break from blogging. This is the last week before March break and I could use some downtime from thinking about teaching. I’ll resume blogging late next week or early the week after (the 19th.)

Happy Blogging!

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Week 9 – The Abridged Version

A whole week gone by already!

I can’t believe how fast time is flying. One thing about just starting teaching is I constantly feel one step behind. It’s hard to take personal time off let alone time to publicly reflect in a blog space.

Well, I did take the time to reflect. And when I did, the flood gates opened a little too wide and I wrote a bit too much. I’ve had to cut this down quite a lot and focus on what I want to get out of writing this post.

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Practicum Week 8

Another week down. I can’t believe how fast time is going by, teaching at the high school level, it’s flying by, which is a completely different experience than being a high school student where some classes feel like they’re going to last forever. Funny how that is.

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