New Year, New Blog!

I’m excited to be taking part in the #MTBoSblogsplosion for my first time ever!

Exploring the MathTwitterBlogosphere

Welcome to the Explore the MTBoS 2017 Blogging Initiative!

With the start of a new year, there is no better time to start a new blog!  For those of you who have blogs, it is also the perfect time to get inspired to write again!

Please join us to participate in this years blogging initiative!  To join, all you need to do is write just one post a week for the next four weeks.  To make it easier for you, we will post a new prompt every Sunday!  Once you have blogged, please fill out the form below.  Each week, your blogs will be posted on this site for all to enjoy!

This Week’s Theme:  My Favorites

This week, the blogging theme will be “My Favorites”, where you can post about one (or many) of your favorite things!  Called a “My Favorite,” it can be something that makes teaching a specific math…

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My favorite…

To be quite honest,

I’ve spent the last hour sitting here and trying to decide: Which one favorite do I want to hone in on? The trouble is there are far too many things that I love about both teaching and learning, so why not encompass that in my response?

My absolute favorite thing about becoming a teacher is that I get to inspire lifelong learning through demonstrating my own passion for knowledge and understanding. Even back in middle school when I “hated” math (in actuality I just hadn’t been challenged enough previously), I knew I loved school. Given the option, I’d have chosen to be a “professional student” without question. I slipped, skipped, and danced through at least a dozen majors- Art, nursing, psychology, English, business… and many more- prior to a golden revelation: I should teach!

I’ve had my fair share of painstaking, non-engaging courses (direct instruction, I’m talking about you), yet I’ve never hated school. Although I may not have my own full-time class yet, and though I still have a couple years of undergrad studies left, I’m already witnessing the effect that my passion for the yet-undiscovered has on the learners I have taught so far!

I am determined to maintain a lifelong attitude of discovery-driven curiosity. I sincerely believe that is key to not only my success as a teacher, but also the opportunity for my future learners to reflect the same passion I have for lifelong learning and discovery.

Note: My apologies in advance for the sketchy readability and conciseness of this post. Ever the future teacher, I took on way too much today and am, quite frankly, exhausted! Of course, I really wanted to get on board with the #MTBoSblogsplosion, so here we go!

Thank you for reading!

Keegan Phillips

Chaos = Accomplishment!

Wow,

Have I been busy or what! I have several semi-new developments going on in my life:

Development #1:

I am thrilled to declare that I have finally been hired as a math tutor at my community college! This position is one which I have been boundlessly excited about all summer; however, due to many changes within their department, my early-summer application got lost in a whirlwind of craziness. I applied once more early last week and heard back almost immediately! I went in to meet with the coordinator on Monday and she hired me on-the-spot! Now for the most thrilling piece of information linked to this job:

Upon informing my math professor of the last two years about my hiring, he promptly responded, “Great! Now be my supplementary instructor for Math 127 (Trigonometry)”! This is a great honor to me because I have a profound level of respect for this professor. He is brilliant in both math and physics and has written many well-recognized mathematical publications. That he sees the ability in me to teach his students well is one of the highest honors I can imagine at this point in my early mathematical career!

Development #2:

I have also been hired as a peer mentor for my major program! Again, I am thrilled. Last week, my professors from my program approached me saying they will be offering new externships this semester, particularly ones for peer mentors within the program. I applied right away and a mere three days later, I was hired.

What does this position entail, you may wonder? Our program has two introductory courses, Step 1 and Step 2. In Step 1, students are introduced to teaching at the elementary level. Right away, they jump into classroom observations (typically with young learners between grades 3 and 4) and begin devising their first (of three) lesson plans. I was part of the inaugural class for my program, so I didn’t have peer support from those more experienced than I; however, my job is to be just that! I will be helping my new peers plan their lessons and will additionally be advising them on classroom management and instructional success. I am very excited to begin this journey!

Both of these are, of course, very large and time-consuming developments. Because of this, I will likely have to completely set my challenge on the sidelines (so early on, too); however, my academic success and learning are ever my priorities!

I will continue to share more as I delve ever-deeper into this wildly promising semester!

Cheers,

Miss P!

 

Oops!

I’m certainly off to a poor start on my blogging challenge, but that’s okay! Why? Because I’ve been busy and productive throughout my absence!

Some exciting news:

In addition to substitute teaching, I’ve recently decided to re-apply to be a tutor at my community college. While I was collecting recommendations from my professors, one pulled me aside and asked, “Have we told you about the externships?” I was totally clueless and asked for more info. It turns out my professors are creating an externship program to hire students from my program, NevadaTeach, as tutors, peer mentors, and who knows what else! The professor I was speaking to explained that they would provide roughly 15 hours a week to each extern at about $10/hr! This is exactly the type of work I’m looking for, and how neat it would be to work on campus! Not only that, but to be able to help prepare all the new NevadaTeach students? I hope I can be so lucky!

Additionally, I recently contacted my professors to suggest creating a student Facebook page through which students can collaborate and discuss their various assignments and challenges as part of NevadaTeach. One professor responded, basically explaining that he intended for us to take ownership of the page. I now have admin rights! Now I need to find strategies for managing academic social media!

More later!

Miss P.

 

Happily Anxious

Challenge: Day 2

“Write about one piece of technology that you would like to try this year, and why. You might also write about what you’re hoping to see out of this edtech integration.”

I won’t be doing a practicum this semester, but I’m hoping to see and possibly even experience more accessible technologies, such as Desmos or Plickers. The reason I’m fond of technologies such as these is because they don’t require an expensive iPad or laptop cart. Desmos can be used on students’ cellphones and Plickers requires only that the teacher has a cellphone! My hope is that with these technologies and others which are similar, the classroom can become a more playful and hands-on environment for the learners.

Engagement is a critical part of the classroom environment! Kids are learning machines and they can learn just about anything when given the right incentive. Anyone, adults and children alike, would fall asleep or lose focus in a drawling, uninteresting lecture; however, in an environment which gets you moving, thinking, and playing around, learning will happen naturally! Many teachers have told me that my goals and ideas are “unrealistic” or “impossible to achieve” but I strongly disagree. The goal is small. Sure, it will take consistent, unrelenting effort, but all that matters to me in the end is that I establish a safe, engaging environment in which my learners are not afraid to explore, play, and make mistakes.

 

Decompression

My head is spinning already and the new college semester hasn’t even yet begun! I am still much happier since my Computer Science professor has been switched out to a professor from whom I seem to learn well! I am, however, quite stressed because one of my closest friends will be moving away this weekend. He will only be moving about 4 hours away, but I have become used to seeing him at least every other day. Because of this, it has been a very emotional and overwhelming week. He leaves the day before college starts back up, so I’m worried how I will fare on my first day of classes. I’m hoping they will be a pleasant distraction rather than an overwhelming one. Anyways, I can’t control everything in my world so onwards and upwards I shall go!

 

See you tomorrow!

Miss P. (:

30 Day Blogging Challenge

As the new semester creeps ever-closer…

I have decided that I need to get a jump on my blogging! So far I’ve been vastly inconsistent with my posts, and so I’ve decided to try and discipline myself by attempting a blogging challenge. My hope is that I’ll be consistent with this challenge and, as a result, form a reflective blogging habit!

Challenge: Day 1

“Write your goals for the school year. Be as specific or abstract as you’d like to be!”

Strengthen my reflective practices by maintaining my blog.

I want to hold myself more accountable for my reflective practices. In the past, I have been lazy about this. Sure, I’d make time to pause and think about my methods; however, this year, I wish to make a much deeper, more thorough effort. I want to push myself to (and beyond) the limits of my current abilities as a teacher! I’m hoping that getting into the habit of blogging will better-stimulate my creative thinking and planning processes.

Improve my time management.

Between 3 math classes, a programming class, and a secondary education class, I’m going to be one verrryyyy busy girl. Throw part-time substitute teaching on top of all that and I have myself one hectic semester! There’s no way I’ll survive it all without carefully planning out a study routine and logging my workdays in a planner.

Maintain a work/school/life balance.

Having read the details within the above goal, I imagine this one is very self-explanatory. (:

Boost my teacher personality!

I am naturally more of an introvert but my absolute favorite kinds of teachers are those who aren’t afraid to be silly and boisterous! I wish to develop more of a playful nature as I teach rather than coming across as timid and quiet. I’ve already made a few strides in the right direction with this one, but I have many a mile yet to go!

Side-note:

Yesterday I found out something awesome! After months and months of absence, I returned to the school for which I substituted long-term. Everyone was excited to see me and told me I need to come back. Unfortunately, I am not currently planned as a long-term sub for them because of my busy school semester. Anyways, I stopped by the classroom of my favorite teacher. She was struggling with engagement last year, so I suggested she speak to my professor, who strongly emphasizes inquiry-based lesson design. I found out yesterday that she took my advice, ended up meeting with him for several hours to hash out her concerns, was sold on the methods behind inquiry-based lessons, signed up to be a mentor teacher (meaning she will host practicum students from my program), and is actively working towards integrating inquiry-based methods into her own classroom! I am stoked. I feel very proud that, although I have two years still left before I am a full-fledged teacher, I am already creating a ripple effect through sharing my pedagogy and ideas with other teachers!

Here’s to a great new semester!

Miss P. (:

Never Ready!

Math

Preparing for my Intro to Proofs course this Fall…

I am edging ever closer to pure mathematics now that I’ve moved past my Calculus cluster! Oh, and did I mention that I got an A in Calc 3? Awesome! This semester will be rather chaotic and it’s causing me a lot of anxiety. I will be taking a course on Introduction to Programming with C++, Differential Equations, Intro to Proofs (of course), Linear Algebra, and a theory class called Knowing and Learning.

This semester has already caused a multitude of headaches.

Headache #1

To begin with, the advisement I’ve received has been shoddy at best. I have two advisers, one through the College of Education and the other through the mathematics department. Time and again, my education adviser informed me that my two natural sciences requirements are already met. When I went to my new mathematics adviser, I was informed that I need four natural sciences, meaning I’d need to take an additional two. This was news to me, and I scrambled to get into an introductory physics class in order to stay on track for graduation.

Flash forward to last week:

I’m looking through my program requirements and read “Natural Sciences (6 credits)”. Double back: 6 credits. As in two 3-credit classes. Which I had ALREADY taken. I email my math adviser, explain everything I already explained previously, but this time am told that my natural science requirements are already met. So two weeks before classes begin, when most courses are already filled to capacity, I have to drop the unnecessary class and scramble to replace it with something more useful. Such frustration.

Headache #2

I am taking a hefty load of courses. Three maths, computer science, and a theory course. Knowing and Learning should be cake, but the others are going to require plenty of study on my part. That’s not the headache part. I have been told repeatedly that the computer science courses at my college are nightmares. There are only two CS professors, a husband and wife team. Apparently neither of them bother to actually teach. Essentially, they just hand you the book, tell you to read it, and then expect you to write an entire program independently. I have zero background in programming, so this was causing major anxiety for me. Imagining hours of struggling through code on top of three math classes and working part-time is not a reassuring experience.

Flash forward to last week:

Did someone slip me an Ibuprofen? This headache unexpectedly cleared itself right up! I was going through my courses online to make sure I’ve smoothed out all the wrinkles and I notice something incredible: No longer did I have shoddy professor listed for my CS course. Instead, my professor will now be the one I had for Pre-Calculus. As in, the professor of the course in which I scored 120% on my final. Based on my past experience in his courses, I am much more confident about the approaching semester. At the least, there’s no conceivable way he would be anything less than an improvement.

I can do it…right?

I’ll be working 2-3 days a week on top of my five classes. In addition to this, my new beau will be taking 3 courses in addition to working full-time as a teacher. Both of us are quick to become anxious and overwhelmed. I would be crazy not to admit that I’m nervous to see how Fall semester affects our relationship. I do believe we have the dedication and willpower to pull through it, but our relationship is still newly budding and I don’t want to jeopardize something with so much potential. Also, I have a tendency to take on 200% of what I can handle. At this point, I’m genuinely considering taking out greater loans in future semesters (I’m taking my first $8k this school-year) so that I can focus on school and not have to worry so much about money in the moment.

Keeping my fingers crossed!

Miss P.

As the Semester Approaches…

Salutations!

As the new semester approaches, I have been planning, scheduling, and planning some more. Beginning August 29th, I will be taking a total of five classes: Knowing & Learning (a methods course for my education major), Introduction to Proofs, Differential Equations, Computer Science (programming in C++), and either a history course on technology or Linear Algebra.

I will also be continuing to substitute teach once or twice a week throughout the semester. In addition to this, I’m trying to learn Russian! Needless to say, I have a lot on my plate this Fall. Fortunately, I have a lot of support from my handsome Russian beau (coincidence?).

My Summer was spent studying Calculus 3, which was great fun. I also went adventuring, which was even more fun! Now I’m trying to jump back into my pedagogical thinking as I prepare for the upcoming semester. My beau also happens to be a teacher. He teaches 4th grade, so it has been a thrill getting the perspective of someone who has been in the field a few years! I also enjoy contrasting our perspectives on primary vs. secondary education. More on that to come!

So far this blog is rather empty and unhelpful, but I think I’m going to jump on the #BlAugust boat halfway through its journey! Considering I still have two or so years to go until I graduate and attain full licensure, I think I’m still a step or two ahead of the game.

More to come soon!

Miss P. (:

Lessons Learned

It’s been a couple of weeks, and boy has a lot happened in that time!

The UTeach National Conference was a blast! It was a very informative experience. I had the opportunity to network with many of my peers, plenty of whom have already taken the upper-level UTeach courses. It was so thrilling having the chance to hear about their experiences and testimonies of their growth. I am more excited than ever to become a teacher. I am learning more each day about how to establish a classroom culture of engagement and respect, with much gratitude due to all those who put together the conference in order that I may meet with others in my field.

Another exciting change that is in the works is what I’m currently most excited for! About two months ago, I applied to my local community college for a position tutoring college math. This would be a great opportunity for me to develop my abilities to break down and conceptualize higher-level mathematical concepts in ways that make them easier to understand for those who are still new to the concepts. Now, I have been pretty anxious about this. Roughly three weeks after submitting my resume, a friend who works for the tutoring center informed me that his boss spoke to him and mentioned that they received my application and would likely be asking me to come in on a Saturday for an interview. I was thrilled! After another couple of weeks, my hope started deflating; however, just last week my Calculus 3 professor spoke to me after class and mentioned that he spoke to the woman in charge of hiring and personally recommended me! I take this as a high level compliment, and I’m really proud of my skills so far. Anyways, she informed him that they will be contacting me any week now for an interview! I can’t wait to see what opportunities the near future will hold!

One bittersweet yet still refreshing change implied by my upcoming new work opportunity is that I’ll have to put my current job on hold. Although I love substitute teaching, it’ll be a breath of fresh air to not have to worry about jumping around to five different schools in a week. Instead, my job would be right on campus, allowing me significantly more time to focus on my studies. It also means not having to master classroom management while I still have about three years left in my program!

 

More updates to follow!

Miss Phillips

Back at it again!

Greetings to the zero readers who will probably happen upon this!

I am very proud to announce that I recently passed Calculus 2 with a beautiful B-! Throughout the semester I have been dangling between the 55-65% range, fearful that I would not get the necessary C- in order to continue onto Calculus 3. As a necessary intervention, I (temporarily) dropped my job to focus on my studies. Just a week and a half after making this decision, I was rewarded with a score of 81% on my Sequences and Series exam.

I am really hopeful that I will now be able to start keeping up on this blog more regularly, but considering I’m diving right into Calculus 3, a Monday-Friday summer course, starting tomorrow, I might still be verrrryyyy backed up on my blogging.

On another very exciting note, next Monday I am hopping a plane to Austin, TX to attend the 2016 UTeach Conference, hosted by the University of Texas, Austin! Although I will not be presenting, I did design a fabulous poster representing my program, NevadaTeach at the University of Nevada, Reno. I can’t wait to add this new experience to my professional portfolio! I hope that I will make some strong, new connections to my peers and others in my field.

Cheers!

Miss Phillips