Why I teach Math

It’s 11:15pm (when I started this) and I was at school until 6:30pm, came home, ate dinner, and have been on the computer working on more school stuff since 8pm. (darn you Common Core!)  It was about 5 minutes ago that I remembered it was Tuesday, NOT Monday, and my New Blogger post is due before midnight.  Oops!

Why do I teach? It’s all I really ever wanted to do. I grew up playing school with my little sister, older cousin and sometimes my stuffed animals and even my barbies played school. We had a huge metal teacher desk in the basement that my dad got from work and I filled the drawers with workbooks and worksheets. We even had two metal student desks that lifted up to hold things inside. Sadly many a finger was squashed by those lids…sometimes accidental, sometimes intentional. 🙂 I started as a mother’s helper in 5th/6th grade and babysat through high school.  I loved being around kids, it was natural for me to be the one at the family parties always playing with and entertaining the little ones. I started teaching swim lessons at 15 and loved it; there were lesson plans to follow and create and I enjoyed all of it. Everything that I did and enjoyed pointed towards teaching.  All of those career “tests” you take in high school put me in the category that included teachers. The ONLY other career that I considered was a Marine Biologist, so I could train whales and dolphins. But the next best thing is that is the career my sister ended up in.

Why Math?   It’s kind of funny actually…I knew I wanted to teach, in fact I SWORE I wanted to teach 2nd Grade, so I majored in Elementary Ed.  I took Spanish for 4 years in High School and took a placement test for college and tested out of 12 credits of classes.  Since I had to have a minor and I only needed 24 credits, I thought having Spanish would be easier to finish (less classes, yeah!) and that it would be helpful in teaching because it was becoming a more prevalent language. Freshman and Sophomore year went by and in the middle of my Junior year we had to start talking and figuring out student teaching placements for the end of my Senior year.  It was January, on January 15th, we had to pay for a month long trip to Mexico as part of the Spanish Minor. I think I met with my adviser January 12th. She asked me what grades I was interested in student teaching, by that time I had clearly ruled out 2nd grade and had been in a 4th grade room too and thought maybe 4th or 5th.  She then explained that I had to do half of my student teaching in an elementary setting and half in a middle school setting and that in the middle school I would be student teaching Spanish. I asked why and she said, because that’s your Minor and at the middle school level you usually focus your teaching in your minor area.  (This was before they changed many state rules to say that you had to have a minor or 24 credits to teach more than one class of a subject in middle school/junior high).  I told her that I didn’t want to teach Spanish, that I just wanted it for knowledge and it’s usefulness in the future.  She pretty much told me tough.

So….in January of my Junior year of college, I switched from a Spanish Minor to a Math Minor.  I completely dropped Spanish and was only one Mexico trip and one class short of having it as a minor. I chose Math because I was always really good at it and I loved that it was all problem solving and that you could get to a solution.  Plus, I definitely didn’t want to teach reading or writing (LA), History or Science and since I was thinking of the middle school part of my student teaching…it came to Math. I took 3 Math classes in the Spring of my Junior Year (Linear Algebra, Modern Geometry and Elementary Statistics). I took one class in the summer as I stayed up there just to get math courses done and I took 3 math courses in the fall semester (Calculus, and two I can’t remember right now).  I would NOT recommend taking Calculus with two other math courses, that was brutal. And finally I took an Independent Study (had to BEG the teacher) during January since no math courses I needed were available. I had to stack the classes in because they didn’t allow you to take any courses during student teaching, other than student teaching seminar.

While I would definitely NOT recommend going about it the way I did, I am amazed at how teaching Math just “fits” me.  I can’t imagine doing ANYTHING else, even on the really really bad days. I ended up getting a student teaching internship for the Spring of my Senior year in 6th grade Math at a Middle School and was completely sold on Middle School and the upper grades. And because it was an internship, I stayed there for my entire student teaching experience.

I pretty much jumped into Math headfirst and happily ended up exactly where I was supposed to be the whole time.

Oh my gosh, I’ve started a blog!

Thanks to the New Blogger Initiative, my insane jealously of TMC12, becoming a better teacher from the ideas, thoughts and questions everyone I follow has posted and after many many many many years of lurking and commenting every now and again, I am officially a blogger! Strike that…an excited, motivated math teacher blogger, who has finally gotten over my “I don’t think I have anything to contribute, everyone has such great ideas, mine aren’t nearly as interesting or useful” fear…so I started this blog.

I figured since I was creating my blogs I follow list which was most likely in turn bringing a lot of you here, I had to post something other than the generic “Hello World!”. This isn’t the most thought out first post, but nonetheless it is a post!

I am slowly trying to figure out this wordpress thing…I know how to create websites (and have done so on the side before), but trying to figure out how to get what I want to show on the right column has already taken more time than I would have liked. And of course the only themes that I wanted to choose required an extra payment, not cool WordPress.

Oh and I figured why not jump in completely so I am also on Twitter @algebrainiac1. THAT is going to take me a lot longer to figure out, I am already lost and only one person has sent me a message Tweet.  Don’t look for much from me on there just yet, but it will be there sometime.

A little about me: My school year starts with Institute Days this Monday & Tuesday (yeah) and I will meet my shiny new 8th graders on Thursday.  This will be my 13th year of teaching and my 11th year teaching at this school and teaching 8th grade Algebra & Pre-Algebra and one section of US History.  I have used SBG for three years now and love it, but I have NO IDEA how it will look in Pre-Algebra this year due to the poor implementation/explanation of Common Core by my district. I don’t even know what I am supposed to be teaching, how can I build my Skill List with nothing to go off of? The other math teachers and I are quite frustrated with the “New Curriculum” we were given June 1, actually we only got the first two units…a list of the CCSS standards, how it applies to the book and a page of links to supposedly helpful websites to find and build tasks out of.  Example #1: Unit 2 is Pythagorean Theorem that lasts 4-5 weeks…in the past depending on the needs of my students we would cover it in 3-4 days. I am excited for the time and depth that CCSS will provide, but at the same time I am worried that I won’t find activities, labs, tasks, etc that are worthy of all that extra time.  My stress this year will be Pre-Algebra, they are not changing Algebra 1 yet as they haven’t decided what track of CCSS the high schools will be following. And US History is a shared subject that is planned together and not touched by CCSS which is great for sharing ideas and trying new things.  I am implementing Interactive Notebooks this year in Algebra and Pre-Algebra and will be spending tomorrow trying to figure out what I want each of the beginning pages to look like, obviously taking ideas from many of you.  Since I rarely used textbooks in the past and this year the kids don’t get a Math book to take home (only class sets), the INB will be perfect…I am excited to figure this out. I have already spent the last week putting together my group bins of supplies, setting my my classroom desks in groups of 4, and creating posters on my computer to print large size for my room.  I absolutely love the fresh start to a school year and hope that this blog and advice/suggestions/ideas from all of you will help keep that fresh start feeling throughout the year!

Thank you for coming to check out my blog and my first post. I will be responding to the first New Blogger Initiative shortly!

P.S. Due to District guidelines and fear being threatened to us teachers, I cannot post my name on my blog or on my Twitter account. All reference to who I am will be generic, I apologize in advance for that.