Teachers are trying to survive the last 3 days of school. Bulletin boards are being tossed, broken pencils are discarded, and trash cans all over my district are being filled. As I sit and watch all the end-of-the-year activities, I can’t help myself but think and reflect on the past year. And it was a wonderful year.
My year in review….
- Presenting at CMC was nothing short of incredible. As my mind rewinds to my short days in Palm Springs, I catch myself smiling at the memory. Yes, it was a lot of work–7 months of planning, collaborating, and practicing—>but it was well worth it. You can read about it here.
- Publishing for the California Math Council’s magazine, Communicator. Stacy’s and my work on the flipped hundred’s chart went state-wide. Teachers from all over the state were retweeting the blog post. And because of this, my little blog post got over 600 views (and still counting). That maybe small potatoes in comparison to some blogs, but that’s big news to me.
- Graham Fletcher and 3 Act lessons For two days in January, I got to see, meet, and “hang” with Graham Fletcher. Terrific math specialist who presented conceptual ideas surrounding 3 Act lessons. And what is even more amazing is that he linked this site with my 3 acts onto his. Educators around the world have been viewing my lessons. In addition, he liked what Stacy and I did with one of his lessons so much, that he included on his website. Overall, Graham Fletcher is the real deal. He’s really sincere, humble and full of magnificent ideas.
- Clotheslines – this routine started a few years go when I saw Andrew Stadel present it. However it was presented for the middle school/ high school teachers. I took the idea and developed it for elementary teachers. And it grew exponentially in popularity around my district. Since publishing my cards, this page has been getting more and more hits.
- School Wide routines – I presented to a few schools about some of the engaging routines that they could be doing in their classrooms with their students. As a follow-up to my presentations, I’d start surprising the staff with some “mathiness.” I started school wide estimation contests and had posters of “Which One Doesn’t Belong” in staff lounges. Teachers were hard core/competitive with coming up with answers. However, the conversation continued well after my presentations and that was the point. To keep the conversations going….and hope that they’d try it in their classrooms.
6. More of everything… In my reflection last year, I made it a goal to just have more of everything. And I got that. I was in so many classrooms. During my busiest day, I was in 6 classrooms, plus was scheduled to meet with my boss. I ran marathons on certain days. But once again, to empower teachers, see smiling kids enjoying math and understanding it—was all worth it.
I’m having difficulty writing this part. The reason is that I’ve been told my position has been dissolved. I’m going back into the classroom. For months I’ve had to carry on with my work knowing that my hardworking, dedicated teachers would no longer be receiving my support. I was crushed. It is only recently that I’ve come to terms with the district’s decision.
With that said, I have accepted a position in my district teaching 6th grade at an elementary school. There was a lot of strategic thinking involved in my decision. It happens to be my son’s former school. This school is also where the staff really made an effort in trying out my math strategies techniques. It’s also where my collaborator, Stacy, works (she’s already asked me to be kindergarten buddies with her–and we are going to be doing some awesome math projects). And when it was announced to the staff that I’d be joining the team, the staff was excited and so happy. The math wizard has a new home.
It would have been too easy to head back to middle school and fall right back into my routine. Going back to my elementary roots after 16 years at the middle school level will be a challenge. But I’ve never met a goal that I couldn’t reach. I love taking on a new challenge.
And there is plenty of other opportunities to look forward to. First of all, Stacy and I submitted two proposals to speak at conferences. The first proposal was submitted to the CMC North conference in Asilomar. The second proposal was submitted to a kindergarten conference in Pasadena. We are not able to make it to the CMC South conference this year, but we have several ideas for the next round of proposals. Secondly, I’ve been recently asked to join a team of people to present at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Andrew Stadel has contacted me and I’ll be representing the elementary side of clotheslines.
Recently, a teacher asked me if I regretted taking the position. I don’t live a life of regret. I’m really proud of the work that I’ve done. My work has never been about me. It’s been about the teachers and the students. To see teachers smiling and invigorated by new strategies has been a thrill. To see students engaged and excited to do different activities and lessons was amazing. And to see my work being talked about via Twitter or this blog has been fulfilling. Finally, if I didn’t take this position 2 years ago, I wouldn’t have had the stories and experiences I can talk about now. None of this would exist.
I’m just going to see where life takes me. I am open to all possibilities and opportunities. That’s all I can do.
Until next time,