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!

Amazing work! Wish I had attended your workshop before my first year of teaching.

Joe

Thanks! What year are you in now?

going on year 6!

Everything is very open with a really clear description of the issues.

It was definitely informative. Your website is extremely helpful.

Thanks for sharing!