Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pre-Algebra Teacher?

My principal stuck her head in my office.  "Can you come see me when you get a minute?" I should have known by the look on her face that something was afoot...but I blindly finished the Tweet I was on and followed her to her office.

When I walked out about 20 minutes later, I had another bullet point to add to my resume: pre-algebra teacher.  I was asked to give up my study hall of four students to team-teach pre-algebra alongside the current teacher of the course for an undetermined amount of time.

Now, before you go thinking terrible things about my new-found teaching partner, this wasn't a reflection on her as a teacher, but really a nice big pat on the back.  Let me explain.

I have been exploring the possibility of bringing Accelerated Math to our school for all math courses from kindergarten through calculus.  After yesterday's meeting with a sales rep, the general consensus among our faculty and administration is to move forward with it.  But, my principal is a very smart woman.  (Maybe that's why she got the principal job!) She realizes that -- like any educational technical advancement -- some teachers will jump in with both feet, some will wait and see what happens, and some will budge sometime in the next decade.  What we are doing here is taking a progressively-minded math teacher, pairing her up with the school's Tech Lead (who has nearly two decades of math teaching experience), and creating a team that will make this work well.  Once I have a handle on how to do it right, I can start showing other teachers how the model works.  Sounds like a good plan to me.

I know you're now wondering what Accelerated Math is all about.  AM (created by the same people who created Accelerated Reader) is an individualized math program that can supplement your regular curriculum.  Initial assessments can help teachers identify skills that students have already mastered or need more work on.  In fact, the rep told of a senior she is working with.  The assessment was able to pinpoint 2nd and 5th grade skills this student was missing.  Once these skills are identified, the program automatically generates questions to help work on those skills plus the objectives currently worked on in class.

As it looks now, I'll be working with half the class on the AM piece on class iPads while Marianne works with the other half on direct instruction, then switch students halfway through the period.  Hopefully the combination of AM and the smaller instructional groups will see an increase in student achievement.

And, so as my teaching journey takes another unexpected twist, I'm excited to see where this one will go and the improvements AM will bring to our math program. I'm sure I'll be talking about this more in the future.

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