|ROCKETS FROM THE CEILING!!
In addition, I found it very interesting to watch someone teach classes that I teach. I think that in the past, I would have spent much of my time thinking either "that's cool!" or "I could do that better."
This time, I spent a lot of time thinking about how I interact with my students and the types of questioning that I utilize. After each class, we talked about the various students and their needs in terms of content and attention. We discussed ways to modify the presentation for future classes. We talked, generally, the way that colleagues who care about improving their craft are supposed to talk about an observation.
|She looks awesome and I look like an escaped mental patient!
Then I went back to my school for conferences!
The style of conference adopted by my school is one that I deeply love. Instead of having parents wander the building looking for teachers, all of the 7th grade parents convene in one room while the 8th grade parents meet in another. They sit at a group a desks at put their child's name on a card. The teachers then sit down with the parents all together and discuss the progress of the child in all of their classes.
The process builds incredible communication, allows teachers to know what the others are saying to the parents and creates an air of community for the teachers as a whole.
In my previous years, I spent much of the conference time saying things like "He doesn't bring his materials to class" "she doesn't complete her assignments" and "he comes in, refuses to do any work and puts his head down."
While true, all of these conveyed the same message: This is why it's not my fault that your kid is failing.
This year, the conferences were VERY different. I spent much of the time laughing and joking with the parents, trying to develop creative solutions to get the kids back on track to success and generally having a good time.
Several parents told me that their kid loves my class and can't stop talking about all of the things that we do and talk about. One set who brought their daughter with them, told me that I had changed her life. She used to spend hours crying about doing her math homework and now she LOOKS FORWARD TO IT! They thanked me for feeding her on days when they couldn't and for making my room a place where she felt safe.
Another set expressed their concern that their son was full of amazing ideas but had trouble getting them out. His spelling is awful, but his minds works on a level that I find astonishing. I suggested that they have him start a blog. Getting his ideas down, even just a few minutes each day could help to clear his mind and direct his thinking. I told them that I started the practice as well and how it has helped me tremendously to keep my thoughts organized. I also told them that I would be extremely interested to read his blog if he and they choose to make it public.
I expressed my concern to another parent that his daughter might be starting down the path to being a "mean girl" and how desperately I didn't want that to happen. She's so kind and sweet and I love her to pieces, but I see undercurrents of bossiness that, if directed properly, could make her an amazing leader.
At several points, I introduced myself and received the response "Oh! So YOU'RE the one!" One parents said "the infamous Mr. Aion."
It was wonderful to be able to tell parents about the growth I have seen in their children and how proud they should be.
I'm really not comfortable tooting my own horn. I'm trying to make math class interesting for the students and for me and the results seem to be pretty positive. I am starting to think that I may actually be doing something right this year. I will only take partial credit for it. The rest goes entirely to the wonderfully creative and encouraging teachers that I have met through Twitter and #MTBoS.
With that said, 95% of the conferences I attended were for my geometry students, who are highly self-motivated and often strive to please their teachers. Many of the parents that I truly NEEDED to see were unable to attend.
The very last parent that I met with asked for me by name. The interaction when as follows:
Me: "Hello. I'm Mr. Aion. Can I help you?"
P: "I understand you hollered at my daughter."
M: "I'm sorry. Who is your daughter?"
P: **tells name**
M: "...I don't know who that is."
P: **describes her**
M: "Oh yes. Well, I did have an interaction with her last week where she felt it was acceptable to talk to teachers as though they were her friends. I expressed to her at that point that it was inappropriate to do so. My job in the morning is keep students moving towards homeroom and she was loitering outside of my room. I asked her to move along and her reply was not appropriate. So I reiterated my point in a more authoritative fashion."
P: "She says you hollered at her."
M: "I don't holler at anyone. But I'm sorry if that was how it was perceived. I will apologize to her on Monday for the way I came off."
I think a year ago, that would have ended MUCH more unpleasantly.
I suppose I may be learning from my mistakes!