Friday, January 27, 2017

#MTBoSBlogsplosion Week 4: Daily Failures

This month I'm joining in the #MTBoSBlogsplosion by @ExploreMTBoS.  The final week's prompt is to write about failure.  So many of us blog about our successes.  This is so important because we feel validated and we share great lessons.  We all grow together by sharing our best lessons.  We can make advancements in our teaching working collectively than we can working alone.  That said, as an outsider, it can be deceiving.  Math teachers all over the world are posting awesome lessons every day and it can make you feel inferior.  Maybe you only have one blog/tweet worthy lesson per week or month.  The truth is.  Many of us teach 3 or 4 different classes, so to blog about 1 lesson out of 80 is not really representative of our daily work.

This week, I've decided to keep a list of all the mistakes I make.  This is a great week to do it, because my mistakes should be minimized.  We are giving midterms on Monday and Tuesday, which means I only have 3 teaching days.  So maybe I'll make fewer mistakes this week than usual.  Here we go:

Monday:  Today was to be a pretty easy day for me.  I just had to finish grading midterms, enter that info into our LMS, add report card comments, and start lesson planning for later this week.  My first mistake of the day was related to making copies.  Oh our copier is the bane of my existence.  When it works properly, you are supposed to 'print' your documents.  Then you go to any of the 6 copiers in the building, enter your access code and 'release' the items you printed.  Unfortunately, our copier jams all the time.  And when it jams, it does not just finish printing your job afterwards, it deletes that job and all other released jobs that were waiting to be printed.  So, my first mistake of the day was getting over confident and releasing more than one document at a time.  Sure enough, there was a jam and i had to walk back to my room to start the printing process all over again.

Monday's second mistake was that in all the printing/jamming/printing, I accidently copied 2 sets of 1 document and 0 sets of another document.  Luckily, I noticed the mistake when I went to make answer keys rather than when I went to pass them out later in the week.

Tuesday:  Today was also meant to be a pretty easy day.  It is a make-up day for students who missed or had exam scheduling conflicts.  The rest of the day was set aside for teachers to collect data on our SLOs and our supervision goals.  Both of these are part of our evaluations.  The SLO (student learning objective) came about as an alternate to using only standardized state exams for teacher evaluation.  Basically, in PA, you can choose a wide sweeping goal to work on, and collect data to show student growth.  I chose working with triangles in geometry.  I had tons of pre- and post- tests to sort through to show how students were progressing.  I had to compile all of this data into a spreadsheet to turn in at the end of the year.  Here is a screenshot so you can see what I mean.

Highlighted sections show that students performed better on their post- test than their pre-test, so they showed improvement.  Of course, I lost my place multiple times while creating the document.  I ended up typing scores in the wrong row/column and highlighting the wrong pairs of cells.  Not a big deal, but annoying if you get through an entire column before noticing your mistake.

Tuesday's second mistake came while collecting evidence for my supervision goal.  The competency that I chose to work on this year was "2b: establishing a culture of learning."  My goal is to have students care more about their peers.  Teenagers can be a little oblivious to the needs of others, and I want them to not only care about their own learning, but also that of their peers.  So, I was collecting evidence for this standard and totally forgot that I must also collect artifacts for the other standards in the domain.  So after submitting my midyear reflection and artifacts to my administrator, I had to go back to add the other standards in domain 2.  Again, not the end of the world, but very inefficient.

Wednesday:   Today was the first day of classes with nearly a week off for midterm exams.  Algebra 2 class started with a warm-up of graphing rational functions in transformational form.  When it was time to go over the problem together, I asked for volunteers to give me each step.  When I asked for the vertical asymptote, a students correctly offered x=-2.  I proceeded to graph the asymptote at x=2.  We got all the way to plotting intercepts before I realized something was not quite right.  So asked the class how I knew something was wrong.  Thankfully they were able to tell me that I had plotted a point on the vertical asymptote, which we are not allowed to do, so either our asymptote or our point must be wrong.  Then a student said that they thought I had graphed the asymptote wrong but that they were not confident enough in their own work to point it out.  :/  

Thursday:  At the collaborative station, my students used +OZOBOT's for the first time.  For the first time out, I only took out 3 bots since I have 3 nice carrying cases.  Usually, I place supplies for each class in a corresponding drawer, but since both of my classes were going to be using the ozobots, I was just going to move the robots from one drawer to the next in between classes.  Of course I received a phone call from the office in the middle of this process and I totally forgot to finish.  Luckily, I realized this during the warm-up of the next class and I was able to quickly rearrange the supplies.  Again, a pretty minor mistake, but still one that caused me some stress.

Friday:  I nearly made it to the end of the day without a reportable mistake, but then I made a doozy in algebra 2.  We were learning about polynomial long division.  We started with a numerical example that they would have solved in elementary school.  We got to the remainder part and I explained how we would write a fraction using the remainder as the numerator and the divisor as the denominator.  Then I wrote the fraction as remainder/dividend instead of remainder/divisor.  No one said anything, until we finished the algebraic example, which I wrote correctly, and then someone asked about why we did it differently.  Six other kids all chimed in at the same time that they thought that I had written the numerical example wrong, but were not sure enough in their thinking to correct me.  Ugh.  Dumb mistake on my part. Luckily we fixed it in their notes, and we had done the algebraic one correctly.  I'd say these are my most common mistakes.  Careless mistakes like copying incorrectly or transposing something.  Very annoying.  Thankfully, my kids take it in stride.  Today, one girl told me that it was ok and proceeded to sing the Miley Cyrus Everybody Makes Mistakes Songs.  I joked with her about how that just made things so much worse.

So there you have it, a chronicle of a week worth of mistakes.  I think this was a little worse than usual.  TGIF! 

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