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Reflections and Preparation: A Look Into the Socio-Emotional Learning Goals of a Teacher

* taps mic * Is this on?  I haven't been here in years, but there is so much that I have been reading, thinking about, and planning in the past few days.  I needed to get some of it out.  Maybe this will forever live in drafts, or maybe, just maybe, I'll be brave and #pushsend.

I crawled out from under a rock and started using TweetDeck on my computer last week.  For years I have missed the #MTBoS community, but have felt that it was too overwhelming to keep up with on top of all the typical day to day activities.  Also, I joined Twitter back when I was one of two math teachers at my school.  That community was my lifeline during my first 3 years of teaching.  Now, I have a workroom filled with teachers in real life with whom I can and should collaborate.  The richness and depth of these workroom discussions are not usually the same as what I found online, but it is still critical to support and develop these relationships.

Now comes to the real point of this post: Reflecting on last year and Preparing for this year.

At the end of each year I ask my students to complete an End of Year Survey which I have hodge-podged from the ideas of many others.  I think most recent additions were from Marissa at La Vie Mathematique.  I love doing this, but I generally hate reading the responses, mainly because I take things too personally.

Here are the comments that I have been mulling over all summer:

Two from Algebra 2:
I felt that my voice was drowned out by some of the louder people in the class like Asdfgh and Fghjkl
I felt like I couldn’t ask you questions when I needed to.
One from Honors Geometry:
 (The prompt here was "What is something Ms. Brtva should STOP?")
Stop doing so much group work, because no matter how many little speeches you get, kids just copy down the right answers from the smartest kid.
Those comments (and others like them) are daggers to my heart.  It pains me to read that a student felt drowned out, like they couldn't ask questions, or that there was a "smartest kid" that was responsible for giving answers to the rest of the group.  This must change!*

One major goal for this year includes making a bigger deal about all students pulling their weight in group work.  I want to do more pencils down debate/convince/justify time and less time for them to merely check their answers with each other.  I also want to make them aware of fixed vs. growth mindset more.  In the first week or two I plan to introduce the Escalator and Beagle spectrum of persistence.

I've learned that just because you say it doesn't make them internalize it.  So I'm looking for ways of making this a reality in my classes.  Help!

Finally, to end this scatterbrained attempt at a first blog post in 6 years, here are some of the comments that I plan to cling to when I get frustrated or overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of the things I can, should and want to change in my classes:

One From Algebra 2:
I always thought I was horrible at math. I believe it was simply because I had not been taught much of anything useful. I also had not very enthusiastic teachers. This year, however, I was quite successful and realized I can do math, if given the right tools. Thanks Ms. Brtva. 
Two From Geometry:
(The prompt was "What is one thing Ms. Brtva should KEEP?)
Relating with students and having personal conversations with them, not just about math. Its refreshing to see a teacher who connects and relates to her students- not just hides behind a podium 
Being so passionate about math
 And, just for fun, here is the word cloud of the Honors Geometry responses to "What is ONE WORD to describe this class?" (n=41...only about 53% of all my students in Honors Geo)

*I know this is a very dramatic statement, and I know these are teenagers speaking at the end of a long school year and some of them are jaded.  Honestly, there were as many kids who hated the amount of group time they had in class as those that loved it.  Can't win them all, I know.

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