A Humbling Transition

It has been a long time since I’ve posted.  I’ve thought about posting many times this year, but life in a classroom is busy.  I have struggled with the transition from Curriculum Coach back to classroom teacher.  I was always busy as a Curriculum Coach, but I forgot just HOW busy life as a classroom teacher is.  I have struggled with the transition from part-time to full-time work.  I knew it would be difficult to balance parenting and partnering and working… and it is.  I have just struggled a lot this fall.

It has been good for me though – it is a not-so-gentle reminder that this job of teaching is complicated.  I have a hard time ever feeling like I am doing a “good enough” job.  There is always more to do and there are always areas where I know things aren’t running the way I would like them to, or where I know my students aren’t learning the way I want them to.  It has been a long lesson in letting go, and I am quite sure I haven’t learned it yet.

The area I struggle most in is Math – even though (I feel like) I am supposed to know what I’m doing as a Math Coach.  And I feel like I know WAY more about Math and Math pedagogy than any other subject area.  I guess the more I know, the more I realize how much I don’t actually know!  It is really hard to let go of my expectations of what my Math classroom should look like.  And, yet – there are those 28 students who show up every day (or most days) and are so good at throwing wrenches at my carefully laid plans.

So… for now…

My biggest struggle – differentiation.   It is the same struggle I hear from teachers all over my district Every Math Learneras a Math coach.  How do we meet the needs of all of our Math learners, when their needs are so different?  How do we make sure we have high expectations and that ALL of our students have the opportunity to learn at a high level while still meeting them where they are at?  It is a question I feel like I never have a good answer for.  I am currently starting the book “Every Math Learner” by Nanci N. Smith that I hope will have some ideas for me.

My biggest successes this year – Number Talks & Visual Representations/Geometry.  Number Talks save my math lesson from flopping most days.  Even if everything else I do is rubbish, I always feel relieved knowing we had some great math conversation.  And my students NEVER fail to surprise me with their insight and interesting ways of looking at things.  I have a few awesome fraction Number Talks to share in this space over the next few weeks.  My other interesting discovery this year is how much my students LOVE anything that has a visual representation/picture/geometric link.  Any time I pull anything out that has shapes or images, my students are instantly engaged.  I love it!  I have been thinking a lot about spatial reasoning and geometry this year and have tried to really find ways to use visual representations and make visual connections, and I am excited that my students are loving it too.  I plan to share a book review that my students are loving here soon too!

So, hopefully this is back to more regular writing/posting as I work my way through the rest of this year!