- First week jitters are not just for novice teachers. Having been out of the classroom for a few years, I was feeling really nervous about starting back. I also realized, about a week into the school year, that I was having to relearn many of the routines and practices that had been second nature to me prior to becoming a department chair.
- The amount of time it takes to prepare good lessons, grade papers, and respond to all the stuff teachers are presented with each day takes a lot more time than I remembered. (And more time than my family anticipated, I think.) I also feel like I did not pay enough attention to some really important issues: More students than I would like have been performing poorly in one of my classes; I am apparently unable to write a test that is doable in one class period; and I still feel like I slide into lecture-mode far too frequently.
- Lots of good things have happened ... The desmos graphing project I assigned to my 2 Algebra students was successful in getting them to think about functions differently. A couple of students who had been struggling started coming for extra help, and their grades are starting to improve. I have developed a pretty good sense of community in my classes.
- I participated on a panel discussion about the Common Core at the College of DuPage and co-presented a one day workshop on teaching Trigonometry through the Metropolitan Mathematics Club of Chicago.
- I tutor only a few students (and none from ETHS), and between them and some of my ETHS students, I am (re)learning that students struggle for lots of reasons, but two reasons appear to be almost crippling, mathematically: serious misconceptions about how numbers behave and a a really entrenched belief that math is impossible to really understand. Both of these are fixable, but I haven't figured out how for all my students and tutees, yet.
- Being "the boss" and then returning to the classroom as a peer includes all sorts of awkwardness.
- A question I had before becoming department chair has resurfaced for me, now with some serious soul-searching about my role in answering it or not: Everyone expects teachers to inspire their students; whose job is it to inspire the teachers?
- Winter Break is quite possibly as good as chocolate.
I'm sure there's lots more I can write about. I'm going to try to write more frequently in the new year.