Saturday, April 28, 2012

Reflections on Year Two

I am working on the talk I will give at MCTM next week. Even though I am reusing a couple of slides, I think it is a lot different from last year's presentation and the talk I gave at the beginning of this year at the fall conference (only 3 attendees at that one).

My two major successes for this year have come up just recently. I gave the cumulative trimester 3 midterm on the first 30 concepts and one of my Algebra students said to me "I cannot believe that I know all this stuff!" My other success happened this week in both of my classes. I presented a couple of tough problems that had very little given information and the students had to use several different concepts/skills to solve them. When they got the problem (with or without help) some of them exclaimed "that was a great problem!" and I saw several students agreeing with them. It seems like many of them are appreciating tough problems now. I have not been assessing problem solving but I have definitely been working on it and now they seem to be enjoying it. I don't even care if they are good at it right now, if they like it and appreciate it and find it fun, they can eventually become great problem solvers.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Quitting My Job

In January, I resigned from my position after 11 years. I think it is finally safe to blog about this because it is now public knowledge. It was hard to quit a job I loved but I had to do it. Of course, I am sticking it out until the end of the school year. I am 50 years old and usually I have not been one to stick around too long so this job had been an anomaly. I moved a lot growing up. I get burned out and unhappy. I need a change. It will be sad to leave my friends but I have to do it.

Looking for a new job is kind of fun. The uncertainty about what I will do next year is unsettling and stressful, applying is tedious, interviewing is hard to schedule and nerve-wracking (especially while teaching an overloaded schedule) but I am learning a lot about myself and it's kind of exhilarating. I can't decide if I should teach math or science. I don't really want to do both. I thought I wanted to teach math but so far schools seem more interested in me as a science teacher. It is kind of like the title of my blog, I am undetermined, can't be defined, not quite imaginary....

I'm also going back to school. I am starting by retaking Calculus. I took it 30 years ago, from a non-English speaking teacher at the U of Mn and didn't really get it. I am ready now. Then I am going to take all of the classes I need to extend my math license from 5-8 to 5-12. That will be a nice goal (it is only 6 classes after Calculus) Then I think it's time to get a PhD, I'll decide about that after my youngest child graduates from high school, after I have a little more experience.

What to do with helplessness?

This week I became frustrated with my Geometry students who don't know how to take a cube root on their calculator. We have already done this when we did similarity and looked at area and volume of similar figures and now we are doing some more complicated volume problems. Why can't they do this? One reason (I think) is that they really don't have a calculator of their own. There is no reason they can't own one, I teach at a private school and most of them have Smartphones, IPods, IPads, etc. I stopped providing calculators (because they disappear and I find them hard to keep track of..... Hmmm. I show it to them two ways using the cube root function and raising it to t he 1/3 power (reminding them to use parentheses).