My name is Sarah Hagan, and if you asked my high school math students, they would tell you that I am weird. (Seriously, somewhere in the world of facebook, there is a photo of me floating around that has the caption "This is my weird teacher.") Why do they think I'm weird? I love math. Even more than that, I love teaching math. Algebra is my specialty. I take students who hate math and show them how much fun it can be. (And, it's infinitely fun in case you were wondering!) Since I don't teach geometry, there is a one-year gap where I don't get to teach my students between Algebra 1 and Algebra 2. It makes my day when geometry students stop by my classroom to make sure that I'm still going to be teaching Algebra 2 the next year. It makes my day/week/month/year/life to see students excited to take Algebra 2 who entered my Algebra 1 class hating math. Words I love to hear: "I miss your class, and I NEVER thought I would ever say that about a math class." I am more than a math teacher. I am a difference maker. A life changer.

The most important fact about me that I probably should have written about first is that I am a sinner who is saved by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, my Lord, my Savior, and my King. I attend a small, country Baptist church where I play the piano, teach a Sunday School class, volunteer in Children's Church, have served as the VBS director for the past three years, and attend church camp as a sponsor. I love my church family! I am nothing without Christ, and I hope and pray that I bring glory to God daily through my teaching and through this blog.

I'm a proud graduate of The University of Tulsa. Go Golden Hurricane! Because being affiliated with one natural disaster related mascot wasn't enough, I took a job in the tiny, oil field town of Drumright, Oklahoma. It's a town of roughly 3,000 people. Having been devastated twice by a tornado, the school adopted the tornado as its mascot. Or, maybe they adopted it before then? I'm only starting my third year here, so I've still got a lot to learn. Since moving here, the town did away with its only stoplight. But, this small town is growing on me. In fact, I think this tiny town and its amazing people may have stolen my heart. This is my third year as a Drumright Tornado!

Living and teaching in a small town also means working in a small school! We graduate approximately 30 students each year. Though, that number will hopefully be on the rise because we have approximately 50-60 in our freshman class! This means that we serve roughly 175 students in the 9th-12th grade. We have two teachers for each core subject (math, English, science, and history) and one teacher for each elective (computers, agriculture, family and consumer sciences). Add in one principal, one counselor, one special ed teacher, one alternative ed teacher, one secretary, one library aide, one custodian, and two cafeteria ladies, and you have the entire school! Though there are definitely downsides to working in such a small school, I love that I am able to get to know ALL of the teachers and almost ALL of the students. And, the class sizes are amazing! Last year, my biggest class was 18, and my smallest class was 5. Of course, we also have small classrooms to go along with those small class sizes. But, what should you expect when your school building was built in 1919?!?

I am obsessed with making math as fun as possible. I spend my paycheck on markers, colored pencils, glue sticks, and dry erase markers. Oh, and lots and lots of chocolate! I laminate things like crazy, and I can't imagine teaching math without using an interactive notebook. I can talk about interactive notebooks for hours and hours. I lesson plan with foldables and graphic organizers in mind. I try to make things as hands-on as possible. I'm definitely a work in progress. Classroom management is a struggle for me, but I'm getting better!

Though it may be hard to imagine, I do have a life outside of teaching and blogging about teaching. I'm a voracious reader, and I'm on a mission to read as many books as possible during 2014. I'm on the board of directors for my local friends of the library group. I try to stay active by biking and running in my neighborhood. I'm currently training to run my first 5K. I'm definitely not a gardener, but I try to keep several potted plants alive on my front porch. I don't have any pets, so I've had to resort to naming my plants. That's not weird, right?

Other things I enjoy: origami, crossword puzzles, sudoku puzzles, Kenken puzzles, board games, blogging (obviously!), reading, playing the piano, volunteering at the library, baking, and finding fun ways to put off washing the dishes.

Disclosure:

Sarah Hagan is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

I have been teaching for 18 years, with my first 10 all at the same school in a small town in northern CA. I taught middle school then, and one year out of the blue I started using the "Math = Love" meme in my classes. The kids found it corny at first, but eventually I got classes trying to out-do other classes by claiming different versions of this equation. Students speaking:

ReplyDelete"For *this* class, Math is greater than or equal to Love!"

"Fourth period said that, well we're going to use Math is congruent to Love. That's more geometric."

That sort of thing. It was a lot of fun. I still have a t-shirt one class made for me with MATH = LOVE on it and everyone's signature from that class. (That's middle school for you. You rarely get that kind of emotional attachment to your class, at least in my experience, with high schoolers.)

I tried to use the idea again the next year, but it mostly fizzled out. I find that such gimmicks (if that's the right word) usually only work once. I don't know if it's because I only come upon them and present them with the right amount or type of enthusiasm when they are new to me, or what, but it feels like catching lightning in a bottle when one of these ideas sticks.

I teach only high school now, by choice, but the title of your blog reminded me of one of the things I really did enjoy about teaching middle school. Thanks!

I love your blog! I teach Pre-Algebra and Algebra to 7th and 8th graders and your blog has sparked my imagination. Thank you!

ReplyDeleteAs a side note, I invite my students to send me emails when they need help. I've set my signature line to be:

Even if you think you don't love Math, Math loves you.

Don't believe me? Solve for "i".

9x - 7i > 3(3x - 7u)

The Algebra students can figure it out pretty quickly. My Pre-Alg girls are desperate to understand how find the answer.

Just realized I never replied to this... I love your e-mail signature, and I totally stole it and made it mine!

DeleteWhy can't I figure your Math love you equation?!!! It is making me mad. Can you please divulge the answer because I think I did everything right but I can't figure out?

Delete9x - 7i > 3(3x - 7u)

Delete9x - 7i > 9x - 21u

-7i > -21u

i <3 U The less than and 3 make a sideways heart.

It says, I love you. :-D

Totally stealing this! I don't know if it will be a signature for my work email, personal email, or both.

I am also a first year teacher this year, teaching Algebra I and Geometry at the High school level.

ReplyDeleteI just used your HOY-VUX foldable in class, and they loved it!

Thanks! Hope your first year of teaching is going swell!

DeleteSarah, thank you for your notebook ideas! You are a real math master! You are helping my students and I in big ways! Keep up the excellent work! Please keep sharing your insights and ideas for 8th grade math! You are a phenom!

ReplyDeleteValerie

Thanks for sharing. You are a true blessing.

ReplyDeleteWow! Bless you for sharing all these wonderful ideas! I tutor students and these materials will be fabulous. Keep up the great work you're doing!

ReplyDeleteFinally! Someone who loves math! I'm in the works of becoming a middle school math teacher and its so hard to find others as dedicated and passionate about the subject. You go girl!

ReplyDeleteFrivolousrambling.blogspot.com

Thanks for your kind words! It sounds like you are entering the right career field! If I could offer you some advice, I'd definitely recommend that you blog throughout all of your student teaching and observation experiences. Good luck with your studies, and make sure you keep that passion!

DeleteI just found your blog via pinterest, and immediately felt connected. I just graduated and signed a contract at the same school I did my student teaching at. I'm equally excited and nervous to be starting my first year of teaching. I'll have both regular and honors Algebra 2 classes, so I will definitely be using your blog as a resource! Bookmarking you now! :)

ReplyDeleteThank you for your blog. I can relate to so many of the struggles you faced your first year. Reading your blog took me back to my first year and I admire how you reacted to so many of the situations; you handled the stress and frustration better than I did.

ReplyDeleteThis fall I will be entering my third year teaching Alg 1 and Geometry. I have been trying to find ways to better engage the students, improve their note taking and study skills and get them to refer back to their notes more. The interactive notebook sounds like a great idea! I have never heard of it before and have been doing a lot of research since reading your blog. I will be stealing many of your great ideas :) You are doing an awesome job caring about your students. Keep it up and keep blogging! You are a great encouragement to your fellow teachers! God's blessings on your work and Thank you!

Megan B. Deactur, IL

Hi Sarah,

ReplyDeleteI really enjoy browsing through your blog. I recently contacted you through the "contact me" tab. I was wondering if you had a chance to read it. I'm conducting an action research project and would really appreciate your input. Thank you,

Lori Boyd

7th grade math

Siloam Springs Middle School

Siloam Springs, AR

Dear Sarah

ReplyDeleteThank you for taking the time to share your love of mathematics and teaching it. Your blog is doing the rounds here in South Australia and hopefully some our teachers will start sharing their ideas as well.

Susan Hyde, Principal, Australian Science and Mathematics School

Wow! It's still hard for me to believe that others find my ideas worth sharing. Definitely encourage your teachers to share their ideas. So many of my ideas have been stolen from countless other teachers who have shared their ideas!

DeleteYou are a hot looking math teacher!

ReplyDeleteHi Sarah,

ReplyDeleteI have just spent several hours devouring the ideas you have in your blog and making plans for the new year when I will be starting my 4th year of teaching Math. I didn't enjoy the subject at first (I wanted to be a Science teacher) but it's blogs and ideas like yours that make me excited about getting the kids excited about Math! I can't wait to start using foldables!

Thank you so much!

From an Aussie Math teacher. :)

Thank you so much for your kind words! It's great to hear that you're excited about getting kids excited about math! We need more teachers like you!

DeleteThis comment has been removed by the author.

ReplyDeleteCame across your blog when looking for a vertical number line. Thanks for sharing your ideas, will be using them with my students in Wiltshire, England. Have a look at the following English sites Mr. Reddy, Numberloving and Mr. Barton - some of the best British Maths sites.

ReplyDeleteThanks for the blog suggestions! I'll definitely be looking into these! And, thanks for stopping by my blog.

DeleteCan you tell me if you have a beginning point with your interactive note book? I would really love to implement these in my classroom, but trying to figure out where to start.

ReplyDeleteThanks for your time, I love your blog!

Hi Nicole!

DeleteI begin by having my students decorate the very first page of their notebooks. They have to include their name and something that tells me more about themselves. Some students write. Others draw. In the past, I've had students glue in a syllabus or rubric. This year, I just jumped into the curriculum. We start off each unit with a table of contents and a blank page that is made into a concept map at the end of the unit.

Hope this helps! Feel free to ask more questions!

Hey Sarah! I've been reading your blog for a couple of months now. I read all throughout my student teaching and even got a couple of ideas for my algebra 1 class. After graduating in May, I got a job teaching algebra 1 and algebra 2 in a high school! I was wondering if you had any tips for first year teachers... specifically for high school math? I'd love to hear any tips and activities you have for the first couple of days of school as well as any classroom management ideas you'd be willing to share.

ReplyDeleteI really enjoy reading your blog! you have some really awesome ideas!

Kristen

Life & Laughter

Hey Kristen!

DeleteFirst off, thanks for reading my blog! It means a lot to me. Your first year is going to be crazy hard and crazy rewarding. I'm going to point you towards several blog posts I've written that I think will give you some of the advice you are looking for.

50 Things I Learned During My First Year of Teaching

http://mathequalslove.blogspot.com/2013/06/50-lessons-learned-during-my-first-year.html

First Day Activities

http://mathequalslove.blogspot.com/2012/08/first-day-of-school-plans.html

http://mathequalslove.blogspot.com/2012/08/im-teacher-recap-of-day-1-and-2.html

http://mathequalslove.blogspot.com/2013/05/math-is.html

http://mathequalslove.blogspot.com/2013/08/first-day-of-school-plans-2013.html

http://mathequalslove.blogspot.com/2013/08/second-year-day-one.html

Classroom management ideas - this is one of the areas I still struggle with. I implemented a cell phone ban this year that helped some. I blogged about that here: http://mathequalslove.blogspot.com/2014/01/keep-change-start-stop-aka-new-school.html. I'm going to try out some new classroom rules and norms this year. Blogged about those recently: http://mathequalslove.blogspot.com/2014/07/classroom-rules-posters-2014-2015.html and http://mathequalslove.blogspot.com/2014/07/class-group-work-norms-poster-set-free.html

Don't expect perfection the first year (or the second year or the third year or ever). Learn from your mistakes. Don't be afraid to toss out an activity you spent hours preparing if it isn't helping students learn. Never stop learning. I'm still learning things about algebra. For example - how did I not know where conic sections came from or that the line between a fraction is called a vinculum or that the little number that tells you what type of radical you are dealing with is the index? Take time for yourself. It's super easy to let school take over your life. I'm really bad about this one.

And, most importantly, REFLECT, REFLECT, REFLECT. You've already got a blog. So, you're ahead there. And, reflect right away. I can't tell you about how many drafts I have in blogger that I meant to write, but now I have no clue why I thought it was important / share-worthy. Reflect for yourself. You do so much stuff that it's easy to forget how you taught something the previous year. Plus, others will read what you write and offer AMAZING advice. And, have a place to reflect on the stuff that you shouldn't share on the world wide web, too.

Enjoy this crazy profession that you've gotten yourself into. Reach out for others when you need help. If you haven't joined twitter, do so ASAP. The #MTBoS is amazing!

Let the kids see who you are outside of school and try to find ways to see who your students are outside of your classroom. This is one of my goals of doing Good Things Monday with my students. I learn things about my kiddos that I would probably never otherwise learn. And, I always share a good thing about my weekend, too. If I don't, the kids will protest!

If you ever need anything, just let me know. I'll be happy to help!

Thank you so much for all of your advice and guidance... and for pointing me in the direction of all of your posts! I'm am so excited to get started with my first year! My biggest worries are classroom management and just the first day of school in general but you definitely have some great ideas here that I think will really help! Thank you for all of your kind and encouraging words!

DeleteYou are very welcome!

DeleteI stumbled across your blog yesterday and I must tell you, you are simply adorable! I love your bio; the way you generously share all your great ideas, and your passion for teaching and learning. The latest post with the words "Please" "Yet" "Thank you" is so great. I totally agree! Keep up the wonderful work, dear sister.

ReplyDeleteI love all of your foldables in your interactive notebook and am excited to try some this year. One question--do your students have a separate notebook for their notes vs. their classwork & homework? I feel like a separate composition notebook would be best as an interactive notebook, but I don't want my students to have to lug around separate notebooks.

ReplyDelete