Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer is here!

Monday marked the beginning of summer break for my students and myself. However, here I am one day later, at school working to further my education so that I can improve the learning environment of my classroom. I am not getting paid for this time, in fact, I must pay to have this experience. Why is it that everyone who has a problem with public education always states the fact that we get a "paid" summer break as a reason our jobs are so easy. If teaching were so easy why wouldn't more people do it? Oh, I think I know the answer to that. Is it the fact that teachers are required to be certified in a number of content areas. Is it the fact that at minimum you are required to have a bachelors degree and must continue your education throughout the course of your career. Maybe it's because we have to educate other peoples children no matter where they come from or what they know. Public education is an amazing tool that our society has. The biggest asset in public education is the teachers. The ones who log hour after hour, who sacrifice time with their families to improve the lives of others. Today instead of chastising a teacher for having the summer off thank him or her for all they have done to make the children of this nation successful!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Conquering my Arch Nemesis

Planning for some people comes natural, not so much for me. Planning is one of the most difficult parts of my job. Each day I must develop lessons for 4 different classes ranging from pre-algebra to algebra 2. The problem I have is I never feel like I have enough time to make each class the best it could be. Some days I spend an hour planning for one class, it is just not feasible to spend that much time on each class every day. Currently I am not really happy with the way I plan my lessons and units. I attempt to set a schedule/outline for each marking period (6 weeks) but I am not able to stick to the schedule because I am not sure while scheduling what type of background knowledge my students have. Perhaps next year I should create a test to determine what type of background knowledge/skills my students have. I currently use the method of pretesting but the problem is many of my students lack any sort of skills to show any useful information, the majority of them guess on all questions. I feel that the pre-req. test would provide more information about background skills than any standard related pre-test. Using this method I would be able to develop appropriate lessons based on the skill levels of my students. While lesson planning is not my favorite part of teaching I realize its value and strive every year to improve upon what I have done in the past and look forward to new ideas in the future.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


While grading I want to determine if my students have "mastered" the content. The problem is what is "mastery"? I define "mastery" as a students ability to demonstrate through verbal and algebraic means an in depth understanding of the problem. Mastery could occur in any classroom activity, however all assignments are not equal. Currently I use a 60-40 weighting, 60% assessments and 40% classwork. This has been a method I have used my entire teaching career without question. I have begun to wonder is this really the best way to measure "mastery"? Next year my school will begin to move towards project based learning where "mastery" can be seen in a final product. I love this idea, but I do not believe my current 60-40 system would work. Perhaps I will move to a total points system that will vary the weights each marking period, but will reflect the type of work being done in class. I believe the method and ways that you grade should based on what best reflects the work students are doing in class.