Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Raw Emotions

I'm a day late for #MTBoSBlog18, but considering that yesterday was the AP Reading Travel Day and I struggled to keep my eyes open, I am still counting this :)

I am feeling raw today. I don't know how else to explain it. I just spent a week with some of my dearest AP Stat friends, reflecting on the year, thinking of new strategies to use, and learning from each other, and to be honest, it made me wonder what has happened to me over the years.

This year's AP Stat test was a "math-y" test and I really didn't know what to expect going into the Reading. I know that in general, my students are not "math-y" students and over the years, I have de-emphasized a lot of the computations in favor of more conceptual understandings and this year that might come back to bite me. And then I started thinking back over the years...

Eighteen years ago, in the summer of 2000, I received a phone call the week before school started asking me if I would be willing to teach AP Stat. I had taught for 2 years, but nothing higher than Geometry and while I had taken a couple of stat classes in college, I wasn't sure about teaching the class. What a whirlwind of emotions I had that year! The AP Stat program was in its infancy and there was only one textbook out there at the time. I was clueless and lost. I stumbled my way through the year, many nights falling asleep with the textbook on my lap and gave "free days" more often than I'd like to admit because I did not know the material well enough to teach it. I diligently took notes on a legal pad, then transcribed them each day on an overhead projector for my students. I remember attending a 2 day training in early November 2000 and one of the sessions was on Type I/II Errors & Power and cried most of the way through the session because I was so lost. I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and had no idea what I was doing.

Somehow I made it through the year and even had some kids pass the exam! I spent the summer diving into every resource I could find, scouring used book stores for Statistics books, printing off idea after idea from the internet, and determined that year 2 would be better.

And it was. I fell in love with the course and attended every workshop I could find in order to deepen my own knowledge of the material.

Over the next few years, I focused more and more on having a student-centered classroom. I believed in the "sticky-ness" of activities, I used online applications to integrate technology, and the program continued to grow and thrive.

But this week, as I listened to the amazing teachers around me, I realized how much I had changed. I don't know exactly when this change occurred, but it did. I realized that while I still believe in the student-centered classroom, I don't know that my daily classroom practice illustrates that belief. I have regressed back to more lecture and more handouts and less activities. It's easy to find reasons excuses why this change has happened - larger class sizes, larger program, new preps, student changes - but ultimately, the responsibility lands on my shoulders. I allowed it to happen.

This realization about how much I have changed really bothers me. I was the young whipper-snapper, eager to change the world. I was the one that ran several teacher resource websites to share teaching ideas with the community. I was the progressive, student-centered, engaging teacher. But today, I just feel old and tired.

I'm not quite sure (yet) how to deal with this. I know that a good chunk of it is in my head. I know that I am a MUCH better teacher than I was at the beginning. I know that I have (way too many) resources at my fingertips. I know that I have some amazing pedagogical tools in my teacher tool-belt.

This year, we are adopting new textbooks. This change is somewhat scary because I have used my current textbook / author for at least 14 years, but I'm hoping the change will be the shock to the system that I need.

I still love teaching the course, but this summer I need to focus on how to channel that "inner me" that I know is still there.

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