Monthly Archives: August 2012

New Teacher Training, Day 1b

After lunch, we continued with two more workshops.  I figured that the starting teachers (working in public schools) were most interested in classroom management techniques/routines/actions.  So, I gave most of the afternoon to:

Workshop #4 : Teacher Moves

I think this was the most important/climactic workshop of the training, as not only did we explore countless ways for controlling a classroom, but I introduced some of my debate structures.  I began with a Try Now (my variation on the Do Now that the fellows stole like crazy for their mini-lessons…which I loved!) pictured here:

After the fellows had (silently) written their responses, I discussed my debate protocol, discussed here.  I wanted the fellows to not only see the protocol in action, but I wanted them to notice how I flow into the math-debating, starting from a “fun” place of discussing TV shows.  It was really cool that in subsequent workshops, fellows still used the claim+warrant terminology/structure in sharing out.  This is why I love it so much.  It sticks, quickly.

Next we discussed group roles and protocols.  I was going to show a brief video of a classroom situation, the groups were going to discuss possible teacher reactions, as well as preventative steps, and eventually share out.  The group roles were:

  • Timekeeper: keeps an eye on the timer and holds group to time limits
  • Recorder: takes notes on ideas shared for reference
  • Project Manager: makes sure everyone is participating in the discussion and safe in the group
  • Questioner: mainly speaks in questions, forcing group members to clarify or deepen their thinking

And the protocol for each video’s discussion was:

  • Individual reaction, 1 minute silent writing.
  • Individual share out, 1 minute each (4 minutes total) What are your reactions to the video?
  • Group discussion (4 minutes) What can the teacher do resolve the situation?
  • Group discussion (3 minutes) What preventative measure could the teacher have taken?

Then we shared out.  The first time, each group shared one idea.  The second time through, since we were already running behind on time, I had only the even tables share out.  Then, just the odds.  The fellows noticed this in their reflection- easy ways to speed up the lesson plan, making on the spot adjustments.

This session lasted almost two hours.  It was great, they came up with good ideas.  Of course, we ended with group and individual reflection time.  Hopefully, they were able to jot down a plethora of ideas for managing their future classroom.  The only negative feedback from a few fellows was that the videos were not really necessary.  I think I’d still keep them.  I think it was good to break up the constant discussions going on with short (one minute at most) videos.  I like variety in my classroom.


Workshop #5: Classroom Discussion

I had intended this last session to be about an hour, watching some videos of classroom discussions, but we were short on time (as I wanted to end early to provide open work time or time for fellows to approach me with specific questions) and the first part of my plan did more than I realized it would.

As we began, fellows filled out the following survey, honestly:

From this simple survey, an entire discussion ensued, first in groups then as a whole class, about good questions, cold calling, student-centered discussions, etc.  What a great note to end on!

I ended with a few minutes of silent reflection, as well as an exit slip/evaluation of me and the workshops so far.  I asked for warm and cool feedback, as well as thoughts about a topic they would really want to see tomorrow.

The reviews at this point were pretty much glowing (not to brag), and what was mainly asked for was sessions on organizing/decorating/structuring the actual classroom and more on classroom management–both of which I had already planned for Day 2!


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New Teacher Training, Day 1a

This past Mon/Tues, I led a “New Teacher Survival Boot Camp” for Math for America’s 24 soon-to-be first year teachers!  It was two 9-5 days with MfA fellows who had just finished grad school and student teaching this past spring.  MfA pretty much gave me a blank slate, just asking that I help the fellows learn good teacher moves, routines and lesson planning strategies.  With that intro, I give you a brief overview of what happened.  I would love feedback!  I’ll let you know at the end how it went/was received.

Workshop #1: The First Day

Through the course of five or six workshops each day, I wanted the fellows to wear two hats:
(1) that of a full participant, thinking and discussing math problems and teacher techniques that come up

(2) that of an observer, very meta, taking note of my choices and moves to help move the lesson along

In that regard, I began the day with a welcome workshop, where I also modeled my teacher moves on the first day of school.  Before the fellows entered, seats were numbered, each seat had a folder with many of the day’s materials.  Once we began, what I did (and do in my classes) was (1) assign seats, (2) have fellows/students fill out an index card of info as a Do Now, which I then collect and use for cold calling all year, (3) introduce myself fully, followed by very brief–one sentence–introductions of the students, (4) go over the Syllabus in its entirety, where I read through most of it slowly and thoroughly, myself, and cold call a few students to read the final parts, and (5) do a math problem that requires little to no prior knowledge.  (Because we had the time, we ended with a gallery walk of the math problems, as each table had different problems, see the full list: First Day Math.)

Afterwards, I ended the session (and every session after) with reflection time.  I asked the fellows to share out what teacher moves they saw.  We talked about the organization and start of class routines that I begin from the very first day.  We talked about the fact that I (purposely) talked a lot, asserting my control, and we also discussed the importance of doing some math each day, as this is, afterall, a math class!  After the share out, I had everyone take five minutes to write in their notebook all the thoughts they had, any ideas they want to remember for their first day or two of class, etc.

Workshop #2: Developing Relationships

The second session was more about exploring non-math/ice breaker activities that one might do in an advisory.  My overarching goal was that the fellows would learn how much they can gain from each other.  I even mentioned at one point that the 24 of them combined have more ideas than I could ever give them, myself.

We began by filling out index cards with three facts anonymously (an idea lovingly stolen from Tina @crstn85).  I collected them for use later in the session.  Then we did some “silent line up” games.  After that, I shuffled the cards and handed them out.  The fellows predicted how many guesses it would take to find the owner of the card (boy were they under-estimating!), and then they used the card to introduce someone.

For the last activity, the fellows sat in groups of four at a table with markers and a paper plate.  They had to design a paper plate using words or pictures answering the questions:

  • on the front side edges: what individual strengths/skills does each person bring?
  • on the front center: what are you better at as a group than as individuals?
  • on the back edges: what individual struggles does each person have?
  • on the back center: what help/advice can you give for these struggles?

We ended with reflection time, again, as always.

Workshop #3: Lesson Planning

All of the fellows were notified in the first session that they would have to prepare a very short (10min) mini-lesson for the second day.  I thought it was only fair that I demonstrate what I wanted: a short lesson where you show a flow–a beginning, middle and end–as well as your ability to explain a topic briefly.  As most of them already know what they are teaching in the fall, I encouraged them to try out something they may be teaching in September.  What better time to get feedback?

Anyway, I did a brief lesson on Euler’s Formula: Vertices – Edges + Faces = 2.

Again, they reflected by sharing out, then journaling.

Then we broke for lunch!


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