Life and Summer

Looking Back:

This was my second full year of teaching. In many ways it was harder than the first. I knew better what I wanted my class to look like, and while there were many successes, I also came up short more times than I can count. I don’t mean to shame myself, but to remember that I have so much left to learn.

While I might be a bit down on myself about the quality of my teaching, I think I did a much better job than last year at focusing that energy into doing better by my students. I was constantly trying new things and working to improve this year. This took a toll on my students at times — I think they would have been better served if I had kept more consistent routines and worked within them rather than constantly changing things. But I learned a great deal, and many of the changes were ones my students loved as well.

Looking Forward:

I’m making a pretty serious professional change this year. I’ve spent the last three years working in Boston. I have loved my students and my coworkers, but stumbled across a new opportunity and I am taking it. I will be moving to Leadville, Colorado (at 10,152 ft the highest incorporated city in the US) and working at a wilderness semester school for high school juniors. If you don’t know what that means, well I’m not sure I do either. I’ll be teaching three preps for the first time — some combination of Algebra II, different iterations of Pre-Calculus, and AP Calc. I will also be leading backpacking trips all over Colorado and Utah. It will basically be the opposite of my job in Boston while still getting to teach math. I am excited for something new — while it feels early to leave Boston, I doubt I will ever have an opportunity like this again, and now is the time to do it.

This Summer:

Has been exciting so far. My last day was Friday, and I decided not to leave early because our final meeting is thank yous and happy-fuzzy-feelings time, and I really loved my coworkers and didn’t want to leave abruptly. Then I got into a car with a friend and drove to Rochester, NY. On Saturday, we drove to Des Moines, Iowa. On Sunday, we drove to Midway, UT, where I will be spending the next three weeks attending the Park City Math Institute. And hopefully not spending 14 hours a day in a car ever again.

I just finished the first day at PCMI and I’m already blown away. So many amazing teachers, great math this morning, time spent reflecting on practice and thinking about eliciting student thinking, and putting together ideas for a professional development project with some great teachers. I have so much to learn here, and I’m really grateful to be here and to learn with so many incredible educators.

I’ve spent a lot of my time recently thinking about problem solving. I’m happy with the conclusions I’ve come to, and will keep reading and thinking about it, but I’m going to put those posts aside until I have some classroom experience putting them into action. I’m not sure what my next projects are going to be. I’ve been really enjoying the conversation around #intenttalk on Twitter, examining Intentional Talk and discussion in math class. I also have a lot to figure out for next year. Whole new curriculum for next year, and a lot of other math on my mind. Much of my extra time will be spent digging through the interwebs for ideas and resources to use in my new role. Tips and suggestions welcome.

Of course there will be more to summer than PCMI. I have plans for a few hiking and canyoneering trips to explore Utah, will give my first full presentation to teachers at Twitter Math Camp, will get in the car for one more big drive to Colorado, and settle in for a few days before my next big adventure begins.

Should be a great summer. Hopefully I’ll learn some stuff along the way. Then off to more adventures.

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