As I mentioned, my school runs a block semester schedule—we cover a year in a semester, four classes each semester. So Monday starts the new year.
I will be teaching Geometry and Algebra II again, although the geometry class will be 10-12 instead of the freshmen of my first semester. One Geometry, two Algebra IIs and, for the first time, pre-calculus.
Note that I am teaching four classes, which means no prep period, and 33% more pay. I am pumped. Okay, a little bit because of the pay, but mostly for two reasons.
Reason 1: Admins don’t give a teacher extra work unless they are happy with the teacher. I have now had two observation writeups so glowing that I keep checking back to see if the name is mine. I know I’m a good teacher. I’m just not used to the principal agreeing with me. More importantly, the administrators seem to like me for the right reasons. Both the principal, who did my observations, and the AVP of the master schedule (the one who reawakened my algebra terrors finally came to see me teach. We had a whole conversation.) both mentioned the quality of my explanations which, many will be surprised to learn, is rarely considered important by either administrators or ed schools. I don’t know why. They also like the fact that I pass most of my students, and keep low ability kids engaged, which is a skill of mine that all previous administrators have used for their own purposes, but never acknowledged as rare or useful. Anyway. I don’t know if they’ll keep me, but it’s very nice, if unusual, to be appreciated.
Reason 2: In my state, a math credential has two levels. One qualifies the teacher to teach through Algebra II, but a third test is required to teach Algebra II/Trig and beyond. I have passed all three tests, passed them first of all the subjects I’m qualified to teach, passed them before I went to ed school by a whole year. And yet, in my first three years of teaching, administrators have on several occasions given advanced math classes to other teachers, teachers who had not yet passed the third test, despite several attempts. Their decisions, done purposefully and in full awareness of the facts, then necessitated a letter home to the students’ parents, per NCLB, that their kids’ teacher was not qualified to teach the class. This is what is known as a penalty. And they took this penalty instead of giving me classes that I was actually qualified to teach. In one case, the administrator didn’t like the other teacher any better than me, had told him to his face he was a “useless brick”, and yet still gave him three Algebra II/Trig classes, giving me Algebra II, taking the penalty, instead of giving him A2 and me A2/Trig. She did not mean this as a personal affront, and I did not take it as such. Such madness as this is pretty normal, and it’s why teachers laugh hysterically when eduformers yammer on about giving principals complete control over hiring and firing. Anyway. As a result of these previous administrator decisions, I have never taught an advanced math class. Not once. Ever. I have no idea how to teach pre-calc. I have no idea how to talk to students who are taking a math class for some other reason than “I need it to graduate”. I have even less idea how to teach an entire class of people who–please, please, PLEASE god—know a positive slope from a negative one. I can’t wait.
I have a friend who is a professor at an elite public university, in a field that requires a lot of math. Back when I was first tutoring and learning math on the job, and got hired to teach a student pre-calc, I asked him “What topics are in pre-calc?” He sniffed, snootily, and said “Precalc isn’t a subject. It’s an administrative category.” I must have learned a lot of math in the intervening years, because I get the joke now.
I’ve got a book, so I’ll figure it out. But if any pre-calc teachers have broad topics to organize around, I’d love to hear about them.
In addition to teaching a full-schedule, no prep period, I start my yearly ACT class on Monday, and in a month I begin my AP US History review classes, two of them. I dropped my English enrichment class, though, so for the first time in seven years, my Saturday mornings are free. I love late winter/spring. But with all this extra money I may just take the summer off for the first time ever.