There is an online initiative for math educators to connect more closely online and share ideas and successes and failures: ExploringTheMathTwitterBlogosphere.
I am no longer in the classroom as a math teacher, but I’ll participate anyway!
I currently work for a non-profit called City Year, which places young adults in high-needs schools to do targeted tutoring and mentoring to keep kids on track to graduate. City Year “corps members” are partnered with a teacher whose students they work with full time as a second educator in the classroom.
In my position, I coach and support a team of City Year corps members within one particular school (across all subject areas). I also coach and support all of the City Year corps members throughout the city who are placed in math classrooms.
In the first prompt, in ExploringTheMathTwitterBlogosphere, educators are asked to share either our favorite open-ended/rich question and how it is or will be implemented OR to share what makes our classroom environment uniquely ours.
I struggle to answer either of those questions.
I’d love to help my corps members expose students to lots of rich questions. However, this is a struggle due to our role in support of the (heavily scripted and very fast-moving) curriculum which leaves no room for most deep learning. I’ll work on trying to find time out of class (after school?) for our corps members to work with students on these types of thought-provoking questions, but I’m certainly open to additional ideas, as well!
Since our corps members each serve within another teacher’s classroom, the question about how to make the classroom environment uniquely their own is particularly intriguing. Without stepping on the teachers’ feet, I’ll challenge my corps members to figure out what makes their service distinctive and personalized (different than their teachers and different than their fellow corps members).
Zach- City Year sounds really interesting. I work in a VERY rural area and we’re lucky to get aides in the classroom just for students on IEPs, not to mention targeted tutoring and help for students at risk for not graduating. It sounds like a wonderful program! Even in a regular classroom, I struggle to incorporate projects and activities to dive deeper into concepts… there’s just so little time to get through the curriculum.
I’ll probably read more about your experiences from last year. It’s impressive you’ve given your time to such a cool program.
Thanks for your post, Zack. Which site are you at? (I did the 2nd half of a year with City Year Louisiana, back when it was just Louisiana) I really appreciate that you’re thinking about the role you and your Corps Members play and how Corps Members contribute to classroom culture/make it their own. I think one of the big struggles I had as a student teacher last year was how to make my own contributions without conflicting with my mentor – it can be tricky, but it’s definitely good to have a solid, unified class culture.
This is my second year with City Year, but my first in this specific position. I have written a bit about my experiences (see the City Year tag or category in this blog). If you have other questions, let me know!
Last year, our corps members had a bit more flexibility in designing their interventions (although we still had the problem that the curriculum moved WAY too fast to allow time for students to do work that would actually help them understand the content that was flying by or time to review prerequisite skills they were missing). This year, the same problem exists with the curriculum flying by extremely quickly, but the school district has also brought in several highly scripted programs that teachers and corps members are supposed to work through with the students each day. Some of these scripted lessons are actually OK in terms of trying to get students to think more deeply about the math. However, there is no room (during class time, at least) for any Dan Meyer-type questions or anything open-ended….
Sounds like you’re in a very unique position. Is this your first year in this position or were you doing it previously? Basically what I’m asking is, have you already written about your experiences in this job or will I need to check back periodically to hear how it’s going? I’ve done something slightly similar as a volunteer with Austin Partners in Education, though nowhere near as intense. A team of us would go into an 8th grade math class once a week to work with the students. Because the volunteers often don’t have teaching experience, APIE provided the “lessons” for us to use. I tended to hate the activities we did because they mostly ended up being test prep dressed up as an activity. Since that’s all it was, the students weren’t particularly interested in it either, and by the end of the year I didn’t feel like we had made much of an impact. I’d be curious to learn more about your experiences with City Year.
Do you follow @numberphile?