Thank You, First-Year Algebra Teacher

It’s the week after spring break for me. I’ve had a lot of lovely interactions with students, especially a few who have been struggling but worked to catch up over break (!!!) and came in to get help… so brave for these particular middle schoolers who tend to beat themselves up and get depressed when they don’t understand or fall behind. We’re looking ahead to next year as a staff and I’m happy about our plans and ecstatic to have a stable, full-time job I like, and therefore my first spring as a teacher where I’m not even applying for another job. BUT… the first week after break feels so long, and I’m so very tired.

After working till dinnertime on email and Geometry and Math 6 lessons, I spent several hours procrastinating (hello Twitter), putting off preparing my algebra lessons on distribution, multiplying binomials, and the area model. I was mulling over the things I knew the students would crash and burn on, partly because of spring break in the middle and partly because of some limitations in the book lessons. I felt I really should rewrite and prepare things a certain way, but just didn’t have the energy to write it up.

Finally I decided I just didn’t have it in me this week to revise a not-that-horrible book lesson, so I’d just use my materials for teaching it however I taught it in 2012, which was my first spring as a full-year teacher. Guess what! Turns out I love what I did in 2012! I don’t even remember making these curriculum modifications, but they’re exactly what I wanted. Score!!

I wish I could go back and tell the me of 2012 that no matter how much of a bumbling newbie I felt like some days, I was already doing some stuff that was pretty darn good. I can’t do that, but at least I can say to any exhausted first-year teachers reading this: every day you teach, you are doing SOMETHING that is awesome.

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