Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Future is Near

Carlos Perez
Middle School Math Teacher

... Future NEXT EXIT >>> | by ...Well, where to start?  If you haven’t heard already, Math is a subject not liked by many especially teenagers, pshhh!  When given the task to choose the best teaching day ever it was pretty difficult.  Having been in the education field for about ten years, I’ve had many moments of success and failure.  However, since becoming a teacher I’ve experienced a lot of moments where many of my students haven’t been challenged to think beyond being a middle school or high school student.  One thing that I’ve found myself focusing on is trying to connect real world scenarios to Math.  The dreaded question of “How/when am I going to use this is life?”  We had the opportunity to visit Junior Achievement of Arizona at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.  The students were to pretend they were applying for a car loan, creating a budget, etc.  I truly enjoyed connecting with the students and helping them think about their future and how their choices affect them and have good and bad outcomes.  Teachable moments is what I always strive to take advantage of. It is extremely rewarding knowing that I have pushed my students to work for not only for the present but for the future.

Sarah Coleman My Best Teaching Day Ever

Image result for sun valley high school mesa
Picking my best teaching day ever is surprisingly difficult.  I think this is because every day that I have been a teacher, I have loved what I do.  Every day I leave my job with some anecdote that makes me smile or laugh.  This isn’t to say that my job is consistently sunshine and roses.  I teach at an alternative high school, so there also isn’t a day that I don’t leave in near tears because of another difficult life struggle that one of my student’s is facing.  That being said, my best day teaching ever was earlier this year at Sun Valley High School.  I was teaching a unit on American Women’s History and I had my class doing a PearDeck I created on some basic background information on important women and events in history.  Through PearDeck, I was able to insert videos after each woman/event in order to give students a more interesting background while they took notes.  I also inserted a Blendspace so that they could further research women’s suffrage.  I have been teaching this class for years, and have never seen such engagement and interest.  As students became involved, I added some discussion questions, and even encouraged students to stop and Google for additional information on various topics.  This lesson was early in the course (2nd day) and through PearDeck, I was able to get so much information about each student, that by the end of class I knew everyone’s name and their interests.  Also by the end of class, each student had chosen a topic for their first essay, and they were actually excited to begin their research.  The end of the PearDeck included questions where they told me what they found most interesting about the lesson, and also gave them an opportunity to tell me what they would like to learn about in this class.  This provided me with the feedback I needed to modify my course to their interests.  That day was the beginning of the best class I have ever taught.  95% of the students passed with nothing lower than a C+, and the discussions, cooperative learning, and engagement that occurred was better than I have ever had.  

Saturday, March 11, 2017

IMG_1461.JPG All of my best teaching days have nothing to do with the day's lesson, but teach strategies for realistic “adulting” and being better people. Any day that results in a student becoming more resilient, more confident, and increasing the hippie in their heart is an awesome day. One of these started with a pep rally, a popular teenage girl, and an epic face plant into the gym floor. I, proud teacher, am taking a video of my step team/cheerleader squad when one of my students eats it. Face first. The video stops. The crowd erupts in laughter. She slinks over to the bleachers with her ice pack on her ankle. I went over and asked her if she was ok, and if she was really hurt or if it was something other than her ankle that was hurt. From the look in her eyes, I could see it was not her ankle, but her middle school pride that hit floor first. I took the risk. It went something like this… “Honey, this is one of the defining moments of your life, and what you do next will shape the kind of person you are. I know it is embarrassing, I know you want to hide, but I want you to suck all those feelings in. Take a deep breath and get the hell back out there with your team!” (Small cuss words are a risky but effective motivator for middle schoolers - use with extreme caution) I took the ice pack and threw it far back into the crowd, and she sprang back into action. The smile on her face was one of the best rewards I have had yet!