I am so thankful for this weekend. My first full week at a new school and now I have some space to reflect, recharge and reset. A blessing of living in a new town is that I don't have any internet access in my new home except for my phone. I've had to add a data pack for now but for the past two weeks I have turned off all notifications, automatic updates and whatever else I could think of that would sap my precious data usage. This may sound like more of a nightmare to some but I haven't missed the ping of the phone and the unread emails sitting there on the screen begging to be read. Instead I've accessed them when I've managed to get to the library or in one sitting, usually as I write this blog. The downside is that I'm picky about what I choose to click on and read so I am less likely to stumble on a gem of an article or the insights of a colleague who has tweeted a taster on twitter.
Despite not being stimulated or interrupted by outside sources I find myself pondering about the classes that I teach and how I can do things better. I'm wondering how can I get to know the individuals better and what might spark for them a curiosity that I can link to maths. I feel quietly confident about the 10 Advanced because that's been my bread and butter for the last 5 years. I know I where can access a curriculum document that has links to resources, course outlines, and generally some ideas on what works. They are a start and I can adapt for the students in the class. I know where to find the challenging problems, what questions to ask the students so they challenged because I've lived this and developed these ideas with colleagues. It won't always go to plan but I don't feel any anxiety about it. In fact I'm excited about what lays ahead.
But the 9's have got me flummoxed. I know I'm building good relationships, together we are building trust and I am starting to get to know them as learners. But I feel disorganised, I feel that all I'm doing everyday is trying something different to see how it works. I'm not happy with the quality of the tasks I set in front of them but despite this I learn something new about them and the dynamics of each class every time.
So today I've allowed myself to ponder and to let the thoughts and ideas drift in and out of my mind. I've experienced some moments of clarity and some moments of anxiety and some moments of wonder. I'm going to keep pondering until tomorrow and then I'm going to get onto it.
My moments of clarity have mostly been about knowing where each student is at and what do they need next. How can I help them to improve? How can I enable them to see the maths in the world around them whilst helping to build their ability in mathematics. I need to find out what interests them. There's one student in the class who I'd been given the heads up about prior to the class. He's a struggler but he can also be a wanderer and a teaser, a fidgiter and a talker and he can generally do very little if he can manage it. I found him outside the assistant principal' office after school on Friday and we had a chat about why he was there and what was going to happen about it. We also chatted about his weekend.I found out his passion and now I have something to tap into. I know I can find some maths in that, I've just got to work out how to structure it for him.
I think I've just been trying too hard to get it all right and now I need to step back and listen a bit more. I feel a bit more motivated to put in the time tomorrow to work out exactly what that might look like in the classroom. Right now though I think I deserve an episode of Inspector Lynley.