1. Being purposely vague because you want students to surprise students on tests.
- In physics and math worlds I felt like some of my best questions were the ones I wrote for tests. I couldn’t come up with anything as good for reviews or examples and I felt like if I used them on anything but the test, they were wasted. Kids were purposely not be exposed to my beautifully written problem. The end result: my brightest students left tests saying “wow that was amazing!” while the majority was thinking “we’ve never learned that”.
- My solution: At this point I have realized that doesn’t work. I am no longer afraid to show them problems like the ones on the test. What I was initially avoiding was giving a review that looked like the test. Now I just give them the beautiful problem as a regular in class problem or for homework. I don’t say it’s like something on the test. I just say “Hey check out this cool thing!”
2. Making agendas and then stop making agendas
- My first two years of teaching I taught in what would be considered a traditional public school environment. I took all the advice of all the books and teachers at teacher training school. I made daily agendas that would be projected on the board. I would include fun facts of the day that would later be coined as FOTDs. If I forgot to have an FOTD students would riot and eventually start emailing me interesting facts themselves. This gimmick was really good for ensuring that I made daily agendas and put thought into what would be accomplished each day. I then moved to a different school where this was less necessary because the students were highly motivated and a routine could be established without a constant visual reminder of what was to be accomplished that day. I fell out of this routine and habit. Kids were left wondering what was going on and I started to not really know what was to be done each day myself.
- Stop being lazy and make a daily agenda EVERY DAY and tell the kids what’s happening. They are as detailed as I want but so often I would think of great ideas but then forget what YouTube video I wanted to show or what the link was to that one really cool site. The daily agendas are more for me than for the kids but everyone benefits.
- I mean moving cities. In my 6 years of teaching I have taught in 4 schools in 3 cities. My first two years of teaching were at the same place but then I moved for various reasons two consecutive years and then I got laid off from public school. The good part was that I got a lot of life experience and was able to establish what I want in a school. I experienced various leadership styles, department vibes, and campus cultures. I learned this while sacrificing consistency in subjects taught. The thing that makes me feel most comfortable in the classroom is being so well planned out that I can then focus on what the stumbling blocks for my students will be. I didn’t have this for what felt like most of my career.
- My solution: Find a school I love and stop moving. I am teaching geometry and IB Math Studies for the second year in a row. I am so much more organized and can focus on how to improve my courses instead of just survive another year.