**T****HIS YEAR. **

This year has been the most challenging and the most rewarding year in my career as an educator. I began this year as a Math Instructional Coach/Interventionist with no classes and ended the year as a Math Instructional Coach/Interventionist/Algebra 1 teacher with 3 classes. My school district in Texas went through a RIF (Reduction in Force) and I had to take on several Algebra 1 classes the last week of October.

I’m going to be honest and state that I was VERY nervous to take on classes after classroom routines and procedures were already set by another teacher. I only taught freshmen in my Geometry classes so I never had a true take on a true freshmen class. I’ve heard how terrifying some of these freshmen can be and that just added to my nervousness. However, I quickly learned that **I ABSOLUTELY LOVE FRESHMEN!**I also learned that my usual “classroom activities” don’t really work with this type of group so I had to quickly adapt my instruction.

I had several take-aways this year:

1. **You cannot assume that students will learn the same way year after year. **

Obviously, I knew this. However, these group of students no longer liked my go-to classroom activities (Mad Libs, Mazes, Scavenger Hunts, etc.). They absolutely hated getting up out of their seats to work on any type of activity. I talked with my students to figure out what works best for them and learned that they are VERY competitive! From November until the last instructional day, I turned almost everything into a type of competition. I will blog more about this in a couple of days.

**2. ****Students do not have to finish every problem on assignments.**

This was the first year that I did not have students complete the whole assignment. Before I passed out assignments, I calculated how much time was left in class and how many problems I thought students could complete in that given time. Usually, I told students, pick anywhere from 4-8 problems that you want to complete and turn it in. I did not have one single student refuse to do just 4 problems. My thoughts were, “Why punish students who take a little bit longer to complete problems?”

3. **School leadership is EVERYTHING. **

Schools need to invest in good leaders, or they will lose GREAT teachers. PERIOD.

4. **Sing. Sing. Sing.**

Come up with rhymes to help students remember important materials, I promise you IT WORKS! I had several students come up to me after the STAAR test and said, “I heard you singing in my head almost the whole STAAR test.” I’ll blog about some of my little Algebra 1 songs.

**5. ****I absolutely love working at a Title I school. **

The most rewarding part of my job this year was actually getting to know and getting to teach my students. I absolutely loved the group of kids that I had this year. I know this is said a lot, but if you show these kids that you truly care, then they WILL work for you. I had two kids who told me the day before their test that they don’t care about this “stupid test” but, they’re going to try to do their hardest on it just for me. I taught only on-level Algebra 1 classes and 58% of my students received Meets on their STAAR test and 24% of my students received Masters.

From here on out, I will be writing at least twice every week. It’s just been hard this school year since there has been SO much going on!

Thank you for taking the time to read this whole post :)