At the Center of my Classroom

This post is submitted for the Virtual Conference on Core Values.

Is change.  I’m swimming with the current now.

6 years of teaching math, 3 years as department chair, and 2 years teaching Calculus after a 22 year career as a CPA.  That’s me.

I feel, as I’m sure many math teachers do, like I’ve been swimming upstream against everything.  The students aren’t getting it.  The county wants more.  The school wants more.  The parents want more.  It’s them against me, isn’t it?  I was starting to see why teacher burnout happens between 5 and 10 years…

…until this summer when I attended the High Tech High Summer Institute and see differently.  I should join the county, school, students and parents and start swimming with the current!

The institute was awesome, but the learning didn’t stop there and the obsession began afterward.  All of the presenters at the sessions referenced “blogs” (I put “blogs” in quotes because I felt like it was a term that might be new to you.  I’m old, it’s new to my people.)  One presenter, Allison Cuttler, encouraged everyone to get involved in the online community of math teachers.  “Okay”, I told myself (quotes this time for the fact that I said it, picture a lazy fist-pump on the “kay”), so when I returned to the humidity of Alexandria, VA, I sat in my AC and started digging.

I have been nothing short of obsessed with the idea of changing!

Three things need to change immediately in my classroom, assessments, lessons, and me.  “Um, what doesn’t change?”  (that’s you speaking, hence the quotes)  My shoes, much to the dismay of my administration.

Assessments will be standards based.  I’ll need to assign a grade, but that won’t stop me from giving shorter 2-3 concept assessments that will continue to spiral through the curriculum and require mastery.  Similar to what is brilliantly laid out by dy/Dan (in 2007) here .  I have the complete support of my county, principal and administrator, and hopefully, you.

Lessons will begin with a real-life problem that needs solving, much like is demonstrated in Sam Shah’s Continuous Everywhere Differentiable Nowhere.  I lectured, I’m sorry.  This one may take some time to get into but I have some great ideas I’ll share about Calculus lessons starting with the end in mind.  See also dy/Dan’s The Three Acts of a Mathematical Story.  (to my old friends, it’s not creepy to like someone’s blog)

As for me, this is my birth into the online world of blogging, tweeting, social bookmarking and whatever else I may discover in the months and years to come. (Resist the urge to use quotes on all that foreign stuff).  I will remain active and keep you posted on my progress and will stop lurking in the sea of tweets I have yet to figure out how to sort through and perhaps give a tweet now and then.  Please point me to more good reading, good advice, and good math, good resources and good support.  If you’re here reading this, it’s because you are part of this incredibly rich online community.  Thank you, not for just reading, but for providing me with the enlightenment you have provided to all teachers.  If you’re not yet on my blogroll, it’s probably because I’m trying to figure out how it works, but send me a tweet anyway, maybe I’ll figure out how to get it.  (quotes…must not… quote)

“What hasn’t changed?”, you ask.  My love of math, teaching, and how much I care about the students.  I believe that will show if I stop fighting the current.




“blog” “tweet” “social bookmarking” “blogroll” “widgets” “rss” Had to get it out of my system.  Getting there.

4 responses to “At the Center of my Classroom

  1. Hi! Thanks for participating in the #vccv. I’m really excited to hear about your dedication to revamp your classroom and personal/professional change – it’s really awesome. There are definitely a lot of great resources and people online. Have you come across the SBG for Beginners wiki? – There’s a lot there for math teachers.
    I know Riley (Point of Inflection) has lots to say about Calc – just ask. : )

    • Thank you as well! Yes, I’ve been to both, but mostly as a quiet lurker. I will definitely speak with Riley. My next post will address my opening lessons of Calculus.

  2. Welcome to the blogosphere! I enjoyed your post. The WordPress tutorials are pretty handy if you have time to explore. I’m new to the blogging world also. Best of luck!

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