Rethinking the Middle: Teaching to Emilio

I just finished reading an amazing post by Cathy Yenca, @mathcathy (Follow HER), about the idea of average. Cathy began her post by talking about how she addresses the measures of central tendencies in her classroom, by having students determine which is best and justify. I loved doing that in my classroom as their reasonings were always interesting. Of course, Cathy’s post quickly got into the idea of average and how we perceive it in education. She referenced a youtube video, a TEDx talk by Todd Rose, which is a must see…all 18 minutes of it. I immediately thought of …

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Headed in A New Direction Again

Before becoming a certified math teacher, I served the students of an elementary school teaching small group math remediation. Looks like I’m headed back to my roots! At the beginning of the summer, I accepted a job as an instructional media specialist for two middle schools. I was excited because our school is doing this insane technology roll-out where teachers will choose between a Macbook Air and a Dell XPS. Each teacher also gets an ipad. Yes, I would need to learn how to run a library, but I would do it. Within the last week, this has changed. I’ll …

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My 5 Steps to Building a Network and Connecting

At the beginning of twitter life, most people focus on numbers. Anyone that tells you different is lying! At some point in the life span of twitter, a connection happens. Those numbers turn into people, stories and conversations. I’m fortunate to have been able to make some pretty amazing connections this year. I thought that it would be nice to let people in on the secret to doing that. It’s not hard but there are some steps that you can take to make connecting easier.   Step 1: Talk to people The first time that I met Kristy Vincent, (@bigpurplehat) …

Empowered to BE!

We all may have a lesson or two that students would buy a one time ticket for. The real class changing question is, Would you want to be a student in your classroom everyday? What are your students leaving your room with? Students may forget what you say to them, but they will never forget how you made them feel. As a first grader, I distinctly remember my teacher commenting to my mother that I didn’t enunciate my words like a normal black child does. Yes, she said this. My mother was understandably furious. It took me years to understand why as …

Part 7: Koolaid’s Final Path to Graduate

Life has a funny way of changing our plans. Looking back at our five years together as teacher and student, neither of us can imagine life without the other. Koolaid taught me how love and understanding can truly impact the life of another. To see him transform over time from being this “hard core” kid to being a soft hearted young man was remarkable. There are so many moments interwoven within this story that will never be told, but they were moments that were a part of his journey …our journey. By January, Koolaid was dating a young lady, who …

Part 6: Undocumented Confusion

How do you convince a student that he matters when this country says that he doesn’t? The buzz word as senior year began was “undocumented”. For any readers not from the USA, undocumented is the term given to those who are not legal US citizens. Koolaid arrived in this country with his family as a child. He turned 1 years old the day that he arrived, a mere baby. I haven’t met a 1 year old yet who wakes up and says that he wants to move to a new country and learn a different life in a place that did …

Part 5: Koolaid, The Pact and The Gang

Gangs are never the best way for students to find family, to find connections. There are almost always negative consequences attached. I begged Koolaid to get out. He did not need a gang. His response was that he could not. The only way out of the gang was the same way in. He would have to be jumped and that was not an option. We worked so hard and my fear, my greatest fear was losing him to gang antics. We lived in a small town and some people wanted to discount the validity of local gangs but they were …

Part 4: Koolaid and Grades

I’ve always had some sort of technology in my classroom. I was known as the “techy” math teacher after a while. When Koolaid came to my classroom as a sophomore, it would be no different. That year, I added a new tool to my arsenal, SMART Response. Koolaid was never one to volunteer answers in class.  He wanted no one to know that he was smart. Our clickers enabled him to participate comfortably. That meant something! It meant that I could teach class, he could learn and he could get back on track, which he did. Sophomore year was the …

Part 3: When Your Head is In the Lion’s Mouth Be Still

Prerequisite: Part 1 Part 2 By March of freshman year, Koolaid was already failing classes. He stopped caring because his concern was geared more towards the money in his pockets than the education that he was receiving. The day that I heard his math teacher call him worthless was the day that I was done sitting idle so I grabbed him one day on his way to class for a conversation. I remember like it was yesterday…clearing out my room, to speak to him. I needed to know why he was putting forth zero effort in his class…no, LIFE. When …

Part 2: Koolaid and Rocky Road

Before reading, please read part 1 here. Freshman year is probably one of the toughest on students. With “Koolaid”, it was no different. I did not tell him that I accepted the high school math job. When he finally saw me, he was definitely surprised. I wish that I could say that my being there helped him to have an amazing year. That was not the case. As with most students in his situation, the streets called his name and he gladly accepted its call. To say that “out of school activities” occurred was an understatement. My student, the one …