Math = Love: Keep, Change, Start, Stop (aka New School Year Resolutions)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Keep, Change, Start, Stop (aka New School Year Resolutions)

Tomorrow is the first day of our second semester!  And, I'm so excited!  If you would have asked me on Sunday if I was ready to go back to school, I would have responded with a definitive no.  Today (Monday) was a professional day.  I spent the first two hours of the morning in a training about how to use a program provided by the Oklahoma Department of Education to provide benchmark exams for our students.  If I had access to technology and time, I would be all over this.  But, I teach in a school that doesn't have a computer lab that we can take students to.  And, I've got a million things to teach before EOI time.  After the training, we were given the rest of the day to work in our classrooms and finalize first semester grades.

I took down all of my Christmas decorations which is a little sad.  I tidied up my room some, too.  It was just as messy as I left it on the Friday before break.  Imagine that!  I typed up my lesson plans for the week.  And, then I started planning interactive notebook pages, writing quizzes, and making Smart Board files.  That's when I started to get excited about seeing my kiddos tomorrow.  I've missed my students.  I've missed my coworkers.  I've missed the whole school environment.  After two weeks of relaxation, I'm ready to jump back into function notation, logarithms, and probability distributions.

This school year, one of my goals was to have my students reflect on the course at the end of each 9-weeks.  At the end of the first 9-weeks, I gave a survey that I have yet to blog about.  Oops...  And, some of the answers were kinda funny.  I may still blog about it.  Better late than never, right?  I mentioned this survey to @druinok at one of the math teacher's circles that we attended.  She said it sounded like the perfect opportunity to have students reflect on things to keep, things to change, things to start, and things to stop.  In all actuality, I don't know if she mentioned ALL four of those things or worded it that exact way.  I was having trouble remembering, so I turned to google for some advice.  I couldn't find it on her blog, but I found it mentioned on another blog that has absolutely nothing to do with teaching.  Anyway, I liked it, and I'm going for it!

Keep Change Start Stop Reflection Form


I typed up a page for my students to fill out.  I gave them three lines for each category: Keep, Change, Start, Stop.  I may or may not regret this.  My rationale was that if I put three lines, then students should give me three answers.  We'll see how that works.  I thought about having students fold a piece of paper in quarters and label each quarter with the different categories.  This would give students more room to write.  But, some students would likely only write a single word or phrase in the section.  I'm looking for more feedback than that.

I want to be a better teacher.  I want to know what my students like (KEEP).  I want to know what they don't like (STOP).  I want to know what they think I could do a better job at (CHANGE).  And, I want to know what they think would make our class a better learning environment/experience (START).  I think I am going to get more constructive feedback from this reflection form than ones I have used in the past because it explicitly asks students to focus on positive and negative feedback.

If you would like to use the form I made in your class, I have uploaded it at the bottom of this post!

My plans are to do bellwork, good things (a Monday tradition - but a professional day on Monday means that we must do good things on Tuesday lest my class rebel), pass back the rest of the graded papers from first semester, and then give students 7-8 minutes to reflect and provide me with valuable feedback.

Once students have told me what they would like for me to keep, change, start, and stop, I have a surprise for them.  I'm going to share with them my own keep, change, start, and stop resolutions for the upcoming school year.  For the past few months, I've known that I need to make some changes to how I run my classroom.

I probably shouldn't announce this for the entire world (and maybe my boss and coworkers) to read.  But, I'm going to anyway.  I'm terrible at classroom management.  The year always starts off pretty well.  But, pretty soon, my kids stop being scared of me.  And, they start goofing off.  And, my threats and punishments don't seem to phase them.  I work really hard to provide them with fun, creative, meaningful learning experiences, and I end up feeling more disrespected than valued.  I'm young.  I'm the antithesis of intimidating.  And, I'm way too nice and patient.

I've let students walk over me for way too long.  And, I've decided that a new semester is the perfect time to do something about it.

KEEP HELPING STUDENTS.  (But, I'm going to stop babying students.)  [This is another post in itself.  To put it briefly, I had a lot of students fail last semester.  A LOT.  And, I was more worried about it than they were.  If a students is concerned about their grade, they will come see me.  And, I will help them.  But, I'm not going to go track down students and force them to come into my classroom to make up work any more.  I've made it very clear that I am here before school, after school, and at lunch to help them.  They are going to have to take initiative to seek help if they need it.]

CHANGE HOW I GRADE NOTEBOOKS.  My students don't have textbooks.  Our interactive notebooks are our textbooks.  I graded so many pitiful notebooks that were missing numerous pages.  Those are notes that my students will never be able to reference.  If I really think that these notes are important, I need to make sure that every single student has every single page.  So, I'm going to make things a whole lot easier on myself in the realm of grading notebooks.  Each notebook will either be a 0% or a 100%.  If students do not make a hundred, they can complete their notebook and resubmit it.  I'm not going to give partial credit for doing part of what I assigned.  My students need to realize just how seriously I take our notebooks.  Maybe my students will wake up to how important our notebooks are when they see what a 0% does to their grade!

START DEMANDING RESPECT FROM MY STUDENTS.  I don't hand out a lot of punishments in my classroom.  I make a lot of threats.  But, they don't seem to do much good.  I've got a new plan for handling disrespect.  When I see a student doing something I deem disrespectful toward me, my classroom, or my time, I am going to hand them a form to fill out.  The form asks them four questions.  I learned about these four questions towards the beginning of the year at one of our professional development trainings on classroom management.  It's based on a program called Capturing Kids' Hearts.  What were you doing?  What were you supposed to be doing?  Were you doing it?  What are you going to do about it now?  I phrased the questions in the past tense because I will be handing the students the form to fill out.  The questions are intended to be asked aloud in the present tense: What are you doing?  What are you supposed to be doing?  Are you doing it?  What are you going to do about it?  I'm not going to call the student out.  I'm no going to debate about whether the student is in the right or in the wrong.  No, they will fill out the form.  And, we'll talk about it.  There's the possibility that maybe I misunderstood what they were doing and they actually meant no disrespect.  If so, I will gladly apologize.  This gives me a paper trail and documentation.  And, I like that it forces students to think about what their next action is supposed to be.  If I have repeat problems with a student, I can share with their parents what the problem is in their child's own words.  I have a feeling I will go through a lot of these in the first week of implementation.  But, I think if I am firm and stick with it, students will realize just how much I mean business.  Students will respect me.  They will not talk while I am trying to teach.  They will not come to class late.  They will not waste time.  I deserve respect.  

Action Reflection Form
(PDF Template Uploaded At Bottom Of Post)


STOP TOLERATING CELL PHONES.  Our students are not supposed to have their cell phones out in class.  If a student has a cell phone out, I am allowed to confiscate it for however long I wish to.  With most students, cell phones are not a problem.  But, I have a few students who insist on snapchatting in the middle of class.  Yes, I see you.  It's obvious that you're taking a selfie when I'm standing three feet away from you, explaining how to convert from logarithmic to exponential form.  Since I have some students who do not know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate times to use their cell phones, I've decided to stop tolerating them at all.  If I see a cell phone, I am taking it AND calling their parents.  I don't care if it's one of my top students or one of the students who is the reason behind this new rule.  I'm going to put a box on my desk.  Any student who doesn't think they have the self-control to stay off their phone for the 50-minute class period is more than welcome to place their phone in the box.  I don't hate cell phones.  I hate disrespect.  And, using your cell phone when I'm teaching is a sign of disrespect.      

Keep Change Start Stop Download Link

13 comments:


  1. I am a 4th year math teacher at the secondary level and am no where near organized as you are. I too have dealt with the struggle of being nice, encouraging, patient, while also maintaining respect and control of the classroom. I felt the exact same way by the time the 3rd 9 weeks was underway. I will tell you that I feel I have found that balance in my 3rd and 4th years teaching. Students behave appropriately for a majority of the year, if nothing else than to not let me down. Your foldables and activities are awesome as I have been borrowing them for a while! Keep up the great work! I'm certain you'll find that perfect balance soon. Secondary mathematics is a tough area and compared to other subjects is simply limited in exciting resources like yours!

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    1. It's so good to know that I'm not alone in this feeling. And, it's good to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Hope!

      Thanks so much for reading my blog! (And, you have no idea how really disorganized I am. I try to hide it on my blog, but it comes through loud and clear in my classroom. I told my students one day that I needed a secretary to help keep my desk clean. One of my students piped up, "Ms. Hagan, every other teacher has the exact same amount of time in the day that you have, and NONE of their desks look like yours." All I could do was smile and shake my head. If there is one thing that my students are, it's honest. :)

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  2. Hey, I'm a second year math teacher as well. I''m in the same boat as you management wise. I think most teachers have trouble with it their first few years. I usually let kids use iPods to listen to music during individual work time. If I see someone taking advantage of it then everyone's music goes away.. They are good with this rule because they don't want to be the reason everyone has to put the music away. Anyways, love your blog. Math teachers unite!! :)

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    1. Thanks for reminding me that I'm not alone! And, I'm so glad that you've found my blog to be useful. I agree: Math teachers unite!

      Oh, and yay for both being second year math teachers!

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  3. Hi! I have been teaching for 26 years now and I discovered your blog at the beginning of this school year. I totally understand what you are saying about classroom management. As a beginning teacher, it can be difficult to manage your classroom, teach your content, and have the students' respect. I found that having a trusted and seasoned colleague observe me teach helped quite a bit. She was able to see things I didn't see and had valuable advice to share. Also, observing teachers who have successful management techniques helps. Trust me, it gets better. You will get better at your management. It just takes time and experience. I look back at my first years teaching and I pity those poor students for having to deal with a green teacher. I am so much better at management and teaching now!! Just keep at it and be consistent!
    I also wanted to let you know that you have inspired me! I was surprised when you said you were a 2nd year teacher. You have such amazing ideas and I have used several of them. I look forward to reading your posts. My students now tease me about spending my free time reading math blogs. I never used foldables before, even though I had heard about them. My students love them. I have even created several of my own. I'm going foldable crazy.
    Anyway, keep up the good work!
    Math Teacher in Corvallis Oregon

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad I'm not the only one who has gone foldable crazy. I just love them!

      You should definitely think about creating a blog to post pictures of the foldables you have created. I'm always looking for new people to steal great ideas from! :)

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  4. Remember not to be too hard on yourself: you are doing some incredible things and your students are very fortunate to have you! Cell phones make me crazy, too! Some days I feel like I am spending 10% of my time teaching content and 90% of my time teaching teenagers how to have cell phone self-control. I have a box on my desk for cell phones, and if I see one out, I hand the student the box and they must put it in. No second chances. Some kids get it right away, and some kids have their phone in there every day. It's tempting to ignore phones once in a while because I get sick of it, but the key is consistency - every time the same result. Also, I find that if I am a stickler on cell phones, many of the bigger discipline issues don't come up. (I think it's like the broken windows theory of policing - if you deal with small, annoying crimes right away, people realize that criminal behavior won't be tolerated, and they don't try.) P.S. A book on classroom management that I found really helpful is Setting Limits in the Classroom by Robert MacKenzie.

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    1. Thanks for the reminder! I've been really strict on the cell phones this week. And, I think it's helped with some of my other management issues. Now, if only I could figure out how to keep my Algebra 2 students from talking so much. It's like their mouths are compelled to open anytime mine is closed. Baby steps. I'm making progress. That's what's important.

      I'm definitely going to look into the book you recommended! It sounds like it's just what I need!

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  5. Thank you so much for the reflection form! I used it with my students this June. It was great! I referred to it in a blog post here: http://rmankel.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/keep-change-start-stop-student-feedback/

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  6. Not sure how to access your forms. It says the shared folder link or file has been removed? I don't see "three dots at the top of the screen" either? Thanks!

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    1. Sorry about that! Here's a better link: https://app.box.com/s/wzzwmr78g5y97odoymalvw9x0lkrroii

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  7. I think I am going to print this on each side of the paper and have one side be what they want me to keep, change, start, and stop and the other side for what he/she wants to keep, change, start, and stop...maybe something for them to do after they complete their midterm exam. I can read them over Christmas break and have time to reflect and think about implementing some of the good ones. Merry Christmas!

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    1. Brilliant! And, Merry Christmas to you, too!

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