Here goes nothing…

So I have been holding off on this post for a while for a few reasons, the main one being I don’t like to ask for help. It’s one of my biggest challenges that I’ve struggled (and currently still do) with most of my adult life. This struggle stems from me being a child of addicts and the feeling that I don’t want to be a burden on anyone directly. But I’ve decided to lean into the uncomfortable and finally post about my current life space of searching for my next professional opportunity (aka looking for a new job).

Honestly, I am unsure in what direction I want my next move to be in and I am not good at talking about the things I do great. I would rather let my actions (for the most part) speak for me and what I do. I hope to list some of the things that I’ve done in the past and have really enjoyed doing and maybe you will see a job posting that you’ll share with me or you might have a job in your org that you would like me to be a part of OR maybe even help me be brave enough to venture out on my own and start my own business! Any and all ideas are welcomed! (including ones about leaving the education profession because that is also an option in my brain)

Here are some beliefs that I am committed to before I get into the list of things I have done.

  • Life long learner – I love to put myself in a space that is uncomfortable in order to learn new skills. With the right support, org or group of people this is one of the main things I really continue to strive to do.
  • Interacting and meeting new humans – in Hawaii we call this talk story. I love to talk story with people or also known as doing the the human “dance”. I enjoy watching, interacting and figuring out how humans work.
  • Every human deserves a chance – I truly believe that all humans deserve a chance (more preferably a fair chance) to get access to or have the opportunity to try whatever it is their current passion is. Sometimes that passion changes along our journey of life but no matter what happens every. single. human. deserves that opportunity (even if it changes rapidly along the way).

Now for the things I have done and wouldn’t mind doing more of…

  • Project manage/coordinate the production of the Illustrative Mathematics curriculum – I project coordinated Grades 6-8 curriculum and then fully project managed the Alg 1-Geo-Alg 2-Extra Supports curriculum project. I can schedule, plan, create and meet deadlines for anything that has A LOT of moving parts and components. (Check out all the pieces of the curriculum, I made sure we had the resources to get all that done)
  • Write/review curriculum for students – I did work writing/reviewing lessons for a variety of students. I have a specific eye for being able to identify what students who are “behind” grade level need. I also have done work around designing classrooms for students who need to experience success in the system of school. Creating a space for learners who have been callused and have come to believe in themselves as unable to learn.
  • Write/review professional learning for adults – I have done professional learning and coaching for teachers and have come to realize that I really enjoy this work. I have supported a few schools on Maui with in class coaching and planning. Mostly focused around 5 practices and various teacher pedagogical strategies.
  • Driver’s Education – I really enjoyed being a driver’s education teacher and I think I did a pretty good job at it.

Here are a list of things I am interested in challenging myself with:

  • Figuring out how to work with the Hawaii Dept of Education to meet the needs of more brown students and start the big uncomfortable and hard convos around equity, race, class, sex, etc. here in my home.
  • Work with an org or group of humans to discuss, plan, create professional learning plans and school long term plans around bettering school systems to meet more students’ needs. Especially students of color.
  • Get back into the Deaf Community and be able to either interpret or use ASL regularly in my life to communicate.
  • Start my own school!
  • Be able to have a hybrid position at a school that allows me to create a classroom that is a learning lab. Where I would be a coach and a teacher and my classroom would be come a learning space that anyone at the school could plan to visit and learn from and with. Students would get to watch their teachers and other adults on campus learn with them in their classroom!
  • Some thing else that has not crossed my mind that you have thought up!

I am all ears and would love to chat with anyone about my next moves in life!

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Here goes nothing…

#NCTMannual

So I am finally getting around to sharing some info about my presentation from 2019 NCTM. I went out on a limb and tried something completely new. I didn’t nail the delivery but the content was real close to my intention. The most ironic thing is the week I got back from San Diego I was dropping my niece off at tennis practice and her coach did the exact thing that my entire presentation was trying to get teachers to be aware of. I am sharing this story in hopes that it relays what the gist of my NCTM talk was about.

My niece is a freshman and it is her first year playing tennis and her first year at this high school. She really wanted to play tennis and she was VERY new to the sport. This practice that I am taking her to is not the first practice of the season. They have been doing this for some weeks now and are about 75% into the season. I sit to watch the beginning of practice like I have been doing for the past few weeks. There are about 9 players all standing around their stuff and just chatting. Practice starts at 3:30pm and at this point, it is 5 mins or so after 3:30. The coach has been there the whole time… nonchalantly bringing supplies from their car to the court. He then makes a comment

Come on guys, it is 3:30 you should be starting to warm up and practice. You are supposed to be self directed here.

I’ll let you know that I’ve watched about 90% of my niece’s practices and this is the first time I heard him say this.

This is where I want to stop and talk about expectations and how this relates to my NCTM talk (“Whose Classroom is this Anyways?”).

  • The coach’s expectation was for the players to get themselves started at 3:30pm.
  • The players’ expectations were to wait for the coach to tell them to get started.

Two different expectations…Both not wrong in any case. Both parties not aware of the gap in understanding the expectations.

This happens A LOT in classrooms! Between teachers and students.

  • Teacher expects students to do blah.
  • Students expect teacher to do blah blah.

Both expectations not quite lining up with each other.

So how do we address this as teachers?

Well I am not sure I have answers but my NCTM talk attempted to provide this

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for attendees.

I asked teachers to discuss and categorize these

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and then analyze how they make students aware of these expectations.

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We then flipped the table and I asked

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I then lightly touched the surface of an idea I’ve been thinking about a lot….

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In a sense, the expectations that we have for students put a notion of institutionalized respect on top of them however we as teachers fail to play a role in their success of meeting the expectation by not being explicit or by having expectations that strip students of who they are as their true selves. So how as teachers do we find that breaking point? What do we have in our classroom culture or instructional routines that helps break that institutionalized respect and/or provide support for students to meet our expectations?

Back to the case of the tennis coach to answer some of these questions….

If the coach’s expectation is for everyone to start at 3:30pm as a team then that is communicated (verbally) from day 1 of practice. Routines of how that looks and sounds like are also practiced from day 1 over a reasonable time period with the coach watching and proving feedback on things that meet expectations and things that need adjusting. Also checking in individually with players to be sure that the coach’s expectations are not asking players to go against their beliefs and their true selves (this should probably be shared with the coach via writing or a safe activity as a team prior to this feedback).

Once the team is meeting the coach’s expectations the coach’s role changes to focus on other areas of need. The process of expectation building, clarification and feedback become an ongoing process.

All of these ideas are still murky for me. I am still in a learning and making sense of phase when it comes to institutionalized respect and expectations. I’d love to chat more….maybe these two ideas are completely separate and after chatting with different people I’ll be able to have more definitive ideas. I’d love to hear from you!

#NCTMannual

Only a few months behind schedule….

After attending Twitter Math Camp (TMC) most people normally write a blog post about their experiences, sessions they attended or whatever they end up writing. I am not good at doing things routinely. So for the past three years I have written nothing. However this year something has been following me ever since #TMC17 in Atlanta, GA. And I finally made the time to get it down on paper. (Literally, because if you didn’t know I write every blog post or email on paper before typing it up. I know I am ridiculous!)

During #TMC17 there was a whole “thing”. I don’t care to give this “thing” energy because honestly it was a waste of time and effort to give it any of my attention [feel free to judge me here, I give no shits]. However, this “thing” did plant a seed in my brain about challenging ourselves…..See for some, TMC is this event where people who have mostly socialized online (via Twitter) are all together, in real life, socializing at a math conference. The online social interactions are normally around ideas/concepts that the individuals both agree on (for the most part). At TMC, you get to meet this person and continue (or start new) conversations around like ideas. I mean it makes sense right? People find commonalities and use those comfortable things to keep their connection.

However, I left TMC this year thinking how to push myself to see things differently. I asked myself:

  • How do I get better at something that is unfamiliar to me?
  • How do I learn about something on the “other side of the fence”?
  • Maybe there is something on the “other side” that would push my current thinking?

This is the learner in me!

Quick side note: I took this strengths finders test a few weeks ago (for work) and guess what my #1 strength was??!! YUP, you guessed it…..LEARNER! OK, now back to the main event!

Visually I see myself as this curious human [highly questionable here] poking around at stuff that is unfamiliar to me. Wanting to put myself in uncomfortable, unfamiliar and weak positions in order to deliberately fail and get challenged by something. After TMC this year, I asked myself why do I do this? Why do I continue to challenge myself? And the answer was right there….

In  order to push our current boundaries we need to know our weaknesses, what makes us uncomfortable, what makes us vulnerable. Then we need to knowingly (and willingly) put ourselves in situations where we are having to face these challenges. That way we are actively seeking new and better strategies to deal with things that are hard for us.

When I think about what I am saying it really sounds insane! Put yourself in situations that you are bad at (on purpose!) in order to get better at them!!???

But isn’t this what learning is all about?????

As teachers, we need a constant reminder of how challenging learning actually is. For the most part, teachers already “know” what they are currently teaching. So how do we remind ourselves of the struggle that our students endure every day. every period. in every content area?

More times than not we forget about this aspect. The true torture of learning. It’s messy, it’s ugly, and often times we feel lost and confused for most of it. But in the end we realize that through that foggy haze of learning we did actually learn stuff. We obtained a new tool for our toolbelt, heck maybe even more than one!

So I guess what I am saying here is, what are you doing to push yourself? What new person are you chatting with that you don’t share commonalities with? What new thing are you engaging in to push back on your current thinking? How are you making yourself uncomfortable in order to learn a new thing?

Pushing yourself doesn’t mean taking on a huge new project or doing extravagant huge things. It might be that you are going to listen to that “other side” or allow yourself to taste a new food (for more than one time) or maybe just smile more often. The main thing is that you are putting yourself in uncomfortable, unknown or vulnerable situations to challenge yourself. To learn and be a role model for your students, who every day face their own challenges in every period in every content area.

Come to think of it. Maybe they are our real role models!

Only a few months behind schedule….

The struggle is real

In the 60s and 70s, we learned about sending our troops away to war and having them return to an unsupportive environment where they were ridiculed for performing tasks that our government “asked” (really forced) them to complete.  We learned that these soldiers were being forced to enroll in the military and then asked to “fight for our freedom” and what did they receive in return?  Protests and ridicule about killing innocent people in a foreign country.  How has our support for our troops changed?  Well for one, joining the military is voluntary (sometimes).  What else has changed?  We support our soldiers while they are away and send them care packages filled with goodies they don’t have the luxury of having while fighting in another country.  We also don’t protest and ridicule them for the jobs they were being asked to do by our government.  We instead focus our attention on the systems that are asking our soldiers to perform these tasks.

This is somewhat how I feel right now in my profession as a teacher

Yes I know, to make an exact correlation to what soldiers went through and teachers is not a fair comparison however I am going to attempt to point out some similarities.

1.  Teachers are the ones fighting on the front line.

Teachers are the ones in the classrooms with students EVERYDAY! Day in and day out!  They are dealing with students hormones, foul language (just being honest here), sassy attitudes, loving attitudes, emotional baggage, insecurities and much much more.  In addition to all this, teachers are being asked to teach through it all in a way that reaches every kid with all different thought processes, make sure they are engaged and pass this assessment to make our school look good.  Us teachers are doing the work!!  We are soldiers on the front line.  We are the ones signing up for this job and being asked to do things that we sometimes don’t agree with and sometimes things we can’t LIVE without doing (teaching kids)!

2.  Teachers are getting ridiculed for doing jobs that a bigger system is forcing them to do.

If you asked the most dedicated, student focused teacher the question: Why do you do this job? They would answer with something similar to: I want to make a difference in students’ lives! (This is why I do this job!) Teacher’s don’t want to: judge students, fail them, test them once a month (sometimes more), be the mean guy (even though sometimes its a job requirement), make kids endure standardized testing, let them fall behind, and all the other shitty things we have to do.

WE WANT TO HELP KIDS LEARN!

WE WANT TO HELP KIDS BE SUCCESSFUL AND PUSH THEM TO THEIR HIGHEST POTENTIAL!

Why else would we do this job???  For the money???  HA!  We do this job for similar reasons that soldiers want to “fight for their country”.  The benefits of working with students outweigh  the negatives (it’s getting harder and hard to say this).  Right now as a teacher, our systems (public systems) are forcing these negatives down our throats.  All the positive things and reasons that motivate us are getting pushed away by people making decisions who AREN’T even educators!  Some of them have never taught a day in their lives!  On top of this who is being ridiculed and blamed?  TEACHERS!  Similar to the way soldiers were being ridiculed to do things they didn’t agree with and being chastised about it , our teachers, who are the main workers on the front line, are being asked to push aside what they know is right for students, to check off boxes on someone else’s agenda!  And who’s being blamed and put down for it????? #facepalm

3.  Teachers aren’t being given what they need to be successful.

Everyone knows teachers don’t get paid enough.  But what everyone might not know is that teachers work more than what we get paid for.  Now you people with the “but you get paid during the summer” argument might want to check yourselves.  In Hawaii, we are 10 month employees which means we DON’T get paid “during” summer.  But instead our 10 month salary is being stretched out over 12 months so that we  don’t have to worry about not getting paid for 2 months.

Now check out the #DITLife blog posts, where teachers from across the nation decided to share a day in the life of their typical teaching day.  I’m amazed at how much time these teachers give to their profession.  As a teacher, I am getting paid for a 8 hour day.  But how much do I actually work? If I kept a record everyday I would definite be going into overtime by Wed or Thurs.

Effective teaching takes time.  It takes time to plan deliberate lessons that are engaging, standards based and rigorous.  It takes time to plan for 7 different preps a day (being the only HS math teacher, I taught it all and had to plan it all).  It takes time to give specific descriptive and timely feedback on students’ work (formative assessment).  How much time are we given to do all this?!  ONE HOUR!  ONE HOUR!!!  ONE HOUR to plan for 7 different classes, give feedback on student work, make copies for tomorrow’s lesson, differentiate your lesson, this list could go on and on!  Teachers are expected do a quality job without being given a reasonable amount of time.  This also doesn’t include all the administrative things we have to attend: data team meetings, academic and financial planning meetings, leadership meetings, this list could also go on and on.  In a nutshell, the first thing teachers need to be successful in this profession is time to do all this and they don’t get it.

Other things teachers don’t get to be successful is basic things to make their classroom function: desks and chairs (now ask if these items are in working order), basic supplies: dry erase pens or chalk, chart paper, a few computers, pencils, manipulatives, novel books, pencils, professional learning resource books.  Do we send our soldiers out without the tools they need to get their jobs done?  Do we ridicule them when they aren’t given supplies they need to do a good job and come back without the job done?

If you know me by now, you know I’m against the BLAME GAME.  I’m very solution oriented, I seek for ways to make the best out of shitty situations.  So whether you are a parent, teacher, coach, administrator or merely a bystander think about the struggles teachers are facing today.  What can you do to be a solution to this mess of education?

Parents – How can you support your child’s teacher by even just giving them positive feedback on something you like about their classroom?  How can you rally behind the teachers who are on the front line of education and working over their hours to make your child’s classroom a safe and productive place to learn?

Administrators – What are you doing to be a solution to your school’s structure and system?  Are you allowing teachers to make decisions based on what’s best for students?  How are you supporting teachers and parents in this huge transition in education?  Are you the leader that is the role model for all at your school?  How are you being the educational leader in all this?

Teachers – What are you doing to support your fellow teachers that are teaching along side you in the battlefield?  How are you being the role model for your students?  Have you committed to life long learning for our students as well as for ourselves? How are you striving to be that teacher you never had but always wish you did!?

Be a solution to our dilemma and not another grumbling voice that would much rather talk the talk but never really walk the walk.

I’m striving and struggling to be the change I want to see in this world.

Won’t you join me!?

The struggle is real

Expanding from #countingcircles

In my classroom, I started using counting circles to be a solution to the problem of students not being able to perform mental math or have any mental math strategies.  Counting circles has worked great for me but I’m ready to start expanding.  A friend of mine recommended buying Pamela Weber Harris’s new lesson and activities book that stems from her first book Building Powerful Numeracy for Middle & High School Students.  I purchase the new book and start thumbing through it.  I realize that she refers to her first printed book a lot.  This gets to thinking….I realize that I barely read any of it and it is sitting right there on my shelf!  So I got to reading!!!!!

This book is the expansion that I’ve been looking for.  Every move in this book is deliberate and calculated.  She discusses numeracy and the importance of it in our students’ math education, in order for them to be successful for more advanced mathematical concepts.

The part that I loved about this book is that she gives you sets (number strings) that you could use for specific strategies and/or specific classes.  She expands the number strings into Pre-Calculus and students (and teachers) see the application of strategies throughout different courses.

How do I see myself using this resource?

In December, I presented Number Talks to the curriculum coordinators in our complex area.  They were K-12 curriculum coordinators and my number talks session mainly focused on using number strings from Sherry Parrish’s book.  Not until my secondary teachers asked me about their grade levels did I make the connection to Pamela Harris’s resource and that I had her book for teachers to borrow in our professional resource library.  I borrowed out the books and looked through mine again and now I feel ready to start working with secondary teachers in implementing number talks as daily routine in their classrooms.  Pamela’s original book has the number strings I would use for my daily routine but her new book, Lesson and Activities for Building Powerful Numeracy, has amazing lesson and activities that you can just use straight from the book!  These are my favorite types of resources to purchase as a teacher because you can just use the activities right from the book which minimizing the adapting teachers have to make.  BUT…..She doesn’t stop there!! She also has sample dialogue between student and teacher for various activities in the book.  This is the best help for a teacher who needs that extra support to get their students discussing mathematics and/or explaining their reasoning.

 

 

I can’t wait to start sharing this new addition to my counting circle routine and to also help teacher who are ready to stop the blame game in their classrooms!

 

Enjoy fellow teacher friends!

Expanding from #countingcircles

Student Learning Objective: K-2 Resources

One of student learner objectives this year was to create a bank of formative instruction resources for classroom teachers to have access to.  My reasoning:

  • I know a lot of book resources that have great activities.
  • Teachers don’t have the time to read through these books to find the activities.

So I decided to setup a list of resources that referred to books and page numbers so teachers can just reference the activities quickly.  Another thing is that these activities can be used as formative assessments because teachers can bring observations and student work from activities to their data team meetings.  To add more to it I focused on activities that spanned multiple clusters and standards so that teachers could use these activities multiple times but add formative instructional pieces (i.e. exit slips, sentence frames, etc.) that focus in on the specific cluster or benchmark.

I am going to be honest…..I am scared about sharing this because it is not perfect and when you put stuff out there then you are opening yourself up for scrutiny.  But I’ll say this: These are working documents!  So know that links and resources will be continuously (crossing fingers) updated or added to.  I already have more links from some blogs that I have to add in and would also love to get more resources from all of you.

Now I know most of my stuff listed is NOT free but I wasn’t looking for free. I was looking for focused!  I get it, stuff is GREAT free but sometimes you get what you pay for and my focus of this project was to provide resources that I know are quality.  Sometimes those quality items cost money and sometimes the textbook you are using has quality stuff. With that said if anyone has page numbers or sections of instructional resources (i.e. textbooks) that you love to use I would love to add them on here.

So please share quality stuff so I can keep updating it. Send me comments, links, more resources, etc.

Also, next year I will be working on grades 3-5 and then hopefully moving up from there.

ENJOY!! 🙂

Geometry

Measurement and Data

Number and Operations Base Ten

Operations and Algebraic Thinking

Student Learning Objective: K-2 Resources

My reason for teaching

I have never been very personal on my blog about teaching but if you’ve ever chatted with me (on computer or in real life) you have gotten a little clue into how much teaching students (math in particular) means to me.

There is no question that I should be in this profession.  There have been times where I have asked myself: “Maybe I care just a little too much.” But as I think about every single student I have had contact with there is no way I can live with myself if I held back on the amount of caring I have for each and every student that I encounter.

These students that come into our lives are our future.  They are the ones that will be our neighbors, our engineers, our congress people, our voters, they are the future of my community, my island, my state and this country.

I feel extremely privileged to be given the opportunity to help mold our future generation.  If not me, then who else? I remember reading one of Fawn Nguyen’s post that we are lucky to do this job.  We are lucky to get the chance to educate some amazing human beings.  Are they amazing when they come into my class?  Most likely NOT!  Are they better people because they’ve taken my class?  DAMN STRAIGHT!  But overall, am I a better person/teacher/human being because I’ve had the honor to teach them?  This is a given!

Each and every student of mine knows that every move I make inside or out of the classroom is for them.

Three years ago I had the honor and privilege of having a squirrely (like all freshman are), sassy (to keep me on my toes) and yet loving and sweet boy in my class (which I will call IPA).  He had that attitude towards math class that gives me my drive…..to be the best teacher I can be! Which pretty much means he hated math.  Well….let’s just say it wasn’t his strength.  Every lesson plan, every activity, every move I made in class was to get him (and any other similar students) to start SLOWLY changing their minds about math and learning in general.  I was DETERMINED to get him to at least appreciate math for its functionality, beauty, structure, or any other awesome reason people are attracted to math.  He was my drive, for the past 2 years, to be better.  To look for and write better lessons, to have high expectations, to break lessons down so all students have access to the content.  Without IPA (and many other students like him) there is no way I would’ve pushed myself as hard as I did.  There is no way I would be as determined year after to year to write better lessons.  There is no way that I would be where I am today in my profession.  We all have these students.  We have the hardest ones that we are pulling our hair out over but if they weren’t here where would we be.  We have those students that challenge us EVERY DAY but still they are in our rooms at recess and after school and we think “I thought he hated my class and math.”  We have those students who we see grow into young adults that we are proud to say “I had the privilege to be his teacher.”  IPA was one of these students.

A week ago we lost IPA in a car accident and that is the reason for my overly personal post here.  Since his death, I’ve been reflecting on all the great teaching moments he has given to me: toll booth conversations, math arguing, arguing about the quality of his work, arguing about him being smarter than he actually thought he was, the reason for being a better math teacher, the reason that I ultimately do this job!!!!  I can’t express enough how lucky I am to have had IPA mold who I’ve become as a teacher.

As teachers we often get caught up in the politics, the power, the rigamarole of the profession.  Don’t forget your reason for being here!!!!  Remember that day in and day out.  See your students’ faces, hear your students’ voices because one day they won’t be there any more.  Be proud knowing that you gave every student everything you could offer them and more!  You are the change agent!  You are the lucky one that ultimately has the opportunity to mold and be molded by the future of your community, your island, your state and country.

I am proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to teach IPA and many other students like him.  And I will never take that for granted!  NO matter what tests, initiatives, or ratings get dumped on our profession.  I am proud and honored to be a teacher of the future.

To learn, read.

To know, write.

To master, teach.

My reason for teaching