Saturday, September 3, 2016

Back to School Night Success

This year, I had wanted to try an Ignite for BTSN, but I kept putting it off and putting it off. And I didn't think it would be smart to create it the night before or the night of the event. I hear these things should be well rehearsed...not that I've ever done one. I settled for keeping a lot of the same material and really pushing myself to show parents/families how passionate I am about teaching their kids. And I seriously think it was a home run!

I began with doing my "Me by the Numbers," which I edited slightly - changed one slide to talking about how I've known I wanted to teach math since I was in the 10th grade (seriously!)

Then I showed the following slide:

In early August, my colleague and I sent a letter to families of students in our Geometry Honors classes. We teach the class using a PrBL approach and we thought it might help if parents really understood what that meant BEFORE starting the class. I will say that is probably one of the BEST things I have ever done. I that letter, we included a link to a google form that asked parents to think back on their own high school math experience and type in 3 words or short phrases that described it. 

So, I reminded parents of this survey as this slide was shown. I said something like, "Imagine my surprise and delight when I started reading responses like these! I mean, 'great, great, great?' That person's math experience was SO good that they used an exclamation point! And if you're thinking that maybe you forgot to hit submit, because you certainly don't see any of your words on the screen right might be because they belonged on the next slide."

A few adults laughed. I heard a few of them reading them aloud and it felt like the vast majority of them could relate to one or more of these. Then I told them, "These hurt my soul as a math teacher! I mean, 'girls don't need to learn math?' I recently read that girls get the message that boys are better at math by the age of 5! Girls are STILL getting this message. These are words that I hope your students NEVER use to describe math class. Will it be stressful sometimes? Maybe? But I hope the words they choose in 20 years are that it was worth it. Challenging, but worth it. Or maybe they remember how much they grew, or how it helped them to become a better problem-solver. Your students are in this school building for the vast majority of their waking hours every day. You trust us to be with them, to teach them, and to treat them as a valued member of our community. I think what we say to students is so important and how we build a community within our classrooms is important."

Then I went on to talk about growth mindsets, and how we'll be working through the "How to Learn Math" curriculum. I talked about the community building things we did within the first week and a half: name tents (and even gave credit to Sara!), our "Me by the Numbers" presentations (because I had kids create and share those too!), and classroom norms (that I had posted and could refer to in the class).

I think it was an awesome way to use what the parents/guardians had shared with me (anonymously) to talk about what I value! I'm super pumped this year - it's going to be AWESOME!

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