Back-to-school thoughts

I know, I know…it’s has been at least a decade since my last blog post. As usual, I have been so busy teaching, living and doing tons of new things that I should have been blogging about, that I just did not find the time to write. I plan to catch my readers up on as much as I can in the coming weeks with lots of new posts. Much has happened, but right now, my focus is on the new school year, which starts for me tomorrow!
The Prodigal Teacher returns…
Not only did I take a super-extended break from blogging, but I also QUIT MY JOB recently. Let me explain–I applied to take a one-year leave of absence from teaching which I fully intended to follow up with a resignation. My plan was to start a small private/home school. Can I simply say it didn’t work out??? It didn’t work out! There. So…I went crawling back to my principal to beg for my old position which she gladly gave me. Whew! I am very excited to return to what I do best–teaching. Just give me some kids and chalk (and iPads and a Promethean board, if possible). Please!
Paper-less, not Paper-FREE!!!
Last school year, I set a goal to become paperless in my classroom. After a few weeks, it turned out to be an EPIC FAIL. For starters, when you teach Pre-Calculus, the tools you can use to give online tests are severely limited. Additionally, it seemed that no matter how much scrambling and randomizing I did (including having a big pool of questions from which the quiz pulled a few) my students kept finding ways to cheat on my online quizzes! Kids who I knew could barely spell their own name were pulling As on all their online quizzes. I still don’t know how they did it, but when I reverted back to the old paper test in forms A-D, “star” students began to fall from the sky. I also teach IB Math, for which I have a great database of released questions that I can make awesome short answer quizzes and tests from. I still plan to use online tools to reduce my paperwork in ways like having a class website where I share daily notes and project prompts, but if paper works better for a given task, then that’s what I’ll be using. Moral of the story is–“paperless” for me now means LESS PAPER, not NO paper, and I’m totally ok with that!
Looking forward
I have a pretty tough schedule this year including an IB class, Algebra II, which I haven’t taught in several years, and Geometry, which is now a high-stakes course that involves tests, tests, and more tests! Nevertheless, I am optimistic and frankly, just glad to be employed. As I begin my eighth year in the classroom, I look forward to learning as much from my students as they will from me–how to better serve them, how to be patient with them (and myself), and many more lessons that I know cannot even anticipate. Last year was tough, but it was also filled with amazing experiences and lots of learning with my classes. This year will not be without its challenges, but I can also look forward to many good times and triumphs which are just as certain as the struggles, based on my experience.

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