Saturday, January 8, 2011

That didn't last long

My Christmas present from that school was an At Will Employment dismissal. "You don't fit in here," they said.
I think what really happened was that the son of a benefactor was one of the students who did poorly on the tests I gave in the 3 weeks I had before semester grades went in.
My faculty adviser (the principal) only came in to observe one day - the day he had filled my classroom with an absent teacher's students, where the combination of 2 classes was like adding lemon juice to baking soda.
My grad school adviser thought things were going as well as could be expected under the very difficult circumstances, and that I fit in well at the school.
My colleagues were amazed, and the department head wrote me a recommendation.

So, what did I learn?
  • Be very careful about working in charter schools.
  • Insist on getting the book immediately, as well as information from the previous teacher about where they've gotten to, and what her plans were (I left that information for the next teacher at this school.)
  • Since I evidently teach differently than many other teachers - I believe that students have to create their own learning (sense-making,) rather than my presenting them with steps to solve a particular problem - I have to prepare the students for working together to figure things out, and not expect me to give them the answer immediately. 
  • I'll have to work out some initial lesson plans that teach collaborative learning
  • Talk with colleagues about methods, ideas, resources (I discovered the last week that there were carts with computers. Unfortunately, we did not have a staff room, my lunch was different from the other math teachers, and we math teachers had no prep period.)
  • As a new teacher, don't take the job if there is no preparation time, mentoring, etc. You're only setting yourself up for failure.
And what am I doing now - besides looking for another job?

I am reading lots of books about how to teach geometry. I discovered that the students were very reluctant to work with proofs, and I didn't know well enough how to engage them in that. I've found fantastic online resources and books, particularly through the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. I hope I get to teach geometry now! All new teachers discover that just because they can solve problems, do proofs, pass the qualifying exam, doesn't mean that the students will be as engaged in the subject as much as they are.

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