Tag Archives: teaching

he will bring it back, right?

So I have some pretty cool kids in my Algebra 1 classes this year.  They are eager to learn and are really digging the investigative approach I am trying to take with math this year.  (Don’t get me wrong. I have plenty that are kicking and screaming the whole way but I am not going to let them bring me down right now.)

Anyway, I am trying to incorporate technology with chrome books (I am really lucky to have a classroom set this year!) and do things to make math a little more relevant and engaging.  Again, they are digging it and are really doing well.  I also use graphing calculators (TI-84s if you are a calculator person).  The problem is, I don’t have a full class set and I don’t ask my kids to buy their own because it is not reasonable for many of my families and I don’t think our level of use justifies it yet.

So I am usually short a few calculators and I just have the kids pair up and work together.  There are also a ton of calculator simulators and apps available. This is only a problem on test days.  I am not “there” yet in regards to letting my kids use their devices for tests.  I haven’t figured out how to monitor this and am afraid the temptation to cheat might be too strong.

So there’s the dilemma. I usually hope for kids to be absent so I don’t have to address the problems.  Only this last time I had perfect attendance on test day!  Can you believe it?  What was I to do?

Everyone had a calculator (they brought their own, settled for TI 30SX, or got to the room 1st and grabbed a graphing calculator) except one guy.  He is quiet and unassuming.  But he is super cool and definitely an outside the box thinker. I really like him and know he is going to invent something awesome one day!

I have 2 TI-Inspires that I have gotten through a grant over the last two years.  This calculator is awesome!  It does more than you can ever imagine.  Check it out here.  I will wait..

Did you look?  What did you think?

Overwhelming, right?  Yeah… that’s how I feel too!  I have had no time to learn all about it.  So I hand the TI-Inspire to my new favorite student. I show him how to do the basics to take his test.  After he finished, he tries to return it.  Of course he finished early (and ACED IT!) so I tell him to play with the calculator for the rest of the class period.  When the bell rings, he brings it to me with a big grin.  He tells me that it is the coolest thing ever and gives me a quick run down of what he figured out.

This is where my judgment gets cloudy…

I dig out the manual (about 5000 pages of how to use this thing).  I hand him the book and the calculator.  I tell him he doesn’t have to read the book.  He says I probably will anyway because I am just like that.   I say figure it out and teach me.  Bring me back something new everyday for the next week.   He agrees.

And he floats out of the room with a big grin.

And then I think… He’ll bring it back, right?

And I know he will.  But if he doesn’t, I know he will use it and become something big!  That kid is going places and I am helping him along the way.

That is why I teach.


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know it all

Here 5 of the many things about me that I don’t like and that tend to get me into trouble.  I think I need to work on fixing them

1. I am snarky and sarcastic.  Sometimes I say things that make people think I may have swallowed razor blades.

2. I am a grudge holder.  Don’t make me mad because I will remember.

3.  I jump to conclusions.  I make rash decisions without knowing all the facts.

4. I speak before I think things through.  I say whatever pops into my head… without thinking…  sometimes it doesn’t turn out well.

5.  I am a know it all.  This one is on my mind today and I want to talk to you about it.

I have always been a know it all.  I remember being in elementary school and feeling compelled to correct my teachers because I knew more than them.  When I was in my 20s I always knew I was right about things and I had to make sure everyone knew (especially the hubs… it is amazing that he kept me around).

Know it alls are annoying.  I can’t stand being around other people that have to “educate” me at every opportunity on everything.  The older I get the more I can’t stand it.  I have been known to call my parents and  apologize for being like that when I was younger.

I have tried to curb my know it all behaviors but sometimes it just happens.  Things come out of my mouth before I realize it (see #4 above).  As I am saying them my mind is cursing me for being a know it all.

Sometimes, though, I don’t even realize I am being a know it all.  This was brought to my attention today.  Last week another colleague and I were having a conversation about technology in our classrooms.  The conversation was broad and covered a spectrum of issues.  This colleague then went and shared part our conversation with another colleague.  It got back to me that the other colleague said “That Casey Campbell thinks she knows everything,” in a nasty and degrading tone.

I have been stewing on this all day.  It really hurt my feelings. Especially since in this particular case, I have had some responsibilities dumped on me.  I get phone calls everyday (sometimes every hour) to troubleshoot technology problems or help someone with technology implementation.  I know I should get over it.  I don’t know who it was that said it about me and while there are a few hateful people in my building, for the most part I really do work with great people.

I don’t want to be a know it all.   I want to be great at what I do and I want to help other good, too.  I guess I just need to work on my tone and my timing.

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i love my job

I love my job.  I love my job.  I love my job.  I have been chanting this to myself a lot lately.  As in… the more I say it to more true it will be.  I have been thinking a lot this weekend about my school year and how much I am struggling and how I have been feeling really sorry for myself lately.

Then I remembered that I feel this way almost every February.  The weather is cold and dreary. We can’t play outside and get fresh air and sunshine.  The kids have sunk deeply into the third quarter rut.  It is just a bad time for me regardless of what my teaching load looks like.

I have decided that I need to get back on track and focusing on the positive.  Many years ago, for Lent I gave up talking bad about my students. Before that I gave up gossip for a semester.  One year I decided to only make positive parent phone calls.  Each of those years, my feelings towards school and my students improved dramatically.  When I focused on the good and avoided wallowing in the negatives, I was a better teacher.  Things improved at home for me as well… I had more to give to my family at the end of the day.  I wasn’t nearly as cranky as I have been in recent months.

So here’s to staying positive!  I am going to focus on the good because there is a lot.  In each of my classes I have a handful of wonderful, amazing students that want to learn.  I am not going to let a few bad apples ruin it for me or the rest of my students.  I am going to teach like I know I can.  I am going to own the things I can improve upon.  I am not going to get stuck on the things I have no control over.  I am not going to wallow in self pity over things that don’t go my way.

I am going to try to report back about the improvements I see within my classroom and share things I try.  So… if you don’t hear from me for a while… you know I am busy inspiring students.

How do you get out of the rut of negativity?

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great day

I just have to say Praise the Lord!  Today was a fabulous day for teaching.  It was one of those days where I really felt like I was doing something good.  I had fun with my students and I think they learned (or remembered) something.

Fridays are test days for my classes so we spent today reviewing.  I decided to play a game and my classes were really into it.  I can’t take credit for the game so go visit this website.  Mr. Kraft does a great job explaining and I want to give him credit for the idea.  I will wait while you go look.


did you go look?  

good stuff right?

I only had two boys with issues today.  They threw hissy fits because they “got out” pretty early in the game.  They pouted and took the alternate assignment because (in their words) “this game is dumb.”

I think I am going to go home and eat peanut butter pie to celebrate.  I am also going to try to figure out how to make every day a game day.

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sweetest gift

It is no secret that I am struggling this year.  This is another year of change for me and I started with high expectations.  It isn’t working out the way I planned.  I have a few students that are sweet and wonderful and want to learn and want to work hard but many more are (it seems) there to torture me or (in their opinion) be tortured by me.

I have spent the year feeling like I am failing as a teacher.  I am not making connections.  I haven’t inspired kids.  I write referrals everyday because the kids don’t respect me.
Side note… I know it isn’t me.  I know I am good teacher.  The kids I have problems with have problems in every class and have always had trouble… they are just all together in my classes.  I have a unique position in that I teach ONLY kids that struggle with math.  Our department has put them all together in a way that used to work very well but things have changed (content, teachers, the world) and this way of grouping has begun to get in the way of student learning and my sanity.  My students are not surrounded with positive behaviors and do not see what learning really is. Most don’t know how to be productive members of a group and they don’t play the game of school well.  (We are making significant changes to our structure for next year that will solve (hopefully) this problem.   Also, my department and administration have been extremely supportive and encouraging and I need to thank them more instead of feeling sorry for myself).

So this week is exceptionally tough for me.  i am not sure why.  I have changed my approach to my teaching in the last few weeks and it is going well (I will try to blog more about that tomorrow).  However, my tough kids are being exceptionally tough this week.  I am in a funk and thinking I need a mental health day soon.  The only problem… my kids have given subs such a hard time that the good ones don’t want to come back to my room.  (I have a professional development day coming up next week and I have a good sub… crossing my fingers that they don’t run him off too.)

So today one of my favorite girls brought two peanut butter dream pies for some event in one of her classes.  When I saw her before school, I teased her about bringing me breakfast.  She laughed and went on her way.  After school, though, she brought me an entire pie that she had left over.  She said some kind words to me and was glowing while she gave me her gift.  I was glowing that she thought of me.

That’s what I ate for dinner tonight and I feel so much better.  I think I will make it through the rest of the week.  And if tomorrow is rough… I have more pie.


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snap out of it

I have some very challenging classes this year.

I teach remedial algebra 1 to high school students that either hate math (or school in general), have struggled in math (or school) in the past, have learning disabilities, or behavior problems.  In short, this is a tough crowd with some pretty intense baggage.  Sometimes they are hard to love.

Today was one of those days where I question what I am doing and why I am doing it. I am struggling to like going to work everyday.

I have a foreign exchange student that acts as my teacher’s assistant one hour a day and is in one of my math classes.  She is very smart but struggled with the language barrier in the advanced math classes.  Anyway, she pulled me to the side today and told me that she admires me and that she could never do my job because she would want to hit these kids.  She also told me that in Italy kids don’t disrespect teachers and get away with it.  I love her and appreciated her perspective.

It has been rough in all of my classes but one class in particular seems to be toxic.  Attitudes are awful.  Language is unacceptable. Effort is dismal.  I am not sure what to do about it.  Today was one of the lows of my teaching career.  I know I need to snap out of it and get back to being positive and loving my students and my job.

So tonight I decided to write all of the students in my toughest class a note telling them that I appreciate them and thanking them for something positive they have contributed to the class.  I got this idea from Bubba’s second grade teacher.  She wrote him a nice note and he was on cloud nine.  Maybe I can regain my student’s trust and rebuild relationships by letting them know I value them. It has been really hard for me but the more I write, the easier they get.

We will see how it goes tomorrow when I hand them out.  I am sure a few will make fun of me and will be big jerks but I can imagine the glow of a few of them and it will be worth it.  I hope.

What do you do snap out of a funk at work?

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I am a teacher and we are pretty nerdy around here. We talk about school stuff outside of school time.
Today I was having a conversation about alliteration with the boys. We talked about examples such as pretty pink purses. (The boys said ewww to that).  They named a few of their own. Dude’s favorite was “big butts” and “lying leopards.”.
Bubba said the example he gave at school was  “five farting fish.”
I asked if he really used that in class.  He was so proud and smiled smartly (had to throw my own in). 
I find this a bit embarrassing and asked what his teacher thought.  Bubba told me she reacher responded with “that would he some bubbly water.”
Dude had to add that it would probably be warm like a hot tub.  Definitely not one I want to relax in.
I don’t know where they get this.

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