As one door closes...

Posted by ADAM JOHNSON on 5/26/2016 8:00:00 AM

The end brings with it many changes.


I don’t like the when things come to an end. I don’t like the end of a good book, a good movie, a weekend adventure… I am the odd ball teacher who doesn’t like the end of the school year. I become very nostalgic when students replace their textbooks with yearbooks, when topic of conversation moves from being about after-school plans into summer plans. I hate when it is time to review for exams… the feeling of “I’ve taught you all I can and now it’s time for you to work on your own… without me.” The end of a school year is very exciting for almost everyone… but not for me. It is time for me to take a step back and watch my students go on to bigger and better things. The end of a school year brings with it a lot of changes as well. Change is also something I am not too fond of. I realize all of this may sound like a quote from Eeyore, but I assure you I am actually a very upbeat, positive guy! I just don’t like to see my students leave after getting to know them over the course of a school year.


I am finishing another wonderful school year filled with awesome memories. These students never cease to amaze me! The amount of growth from their first day to their final exam is absolutely awe-inspiring. If ever you need motivation/inspiration to overcome a difficult challenge in your life, come visit my students for a day and watch how they manage themselves. They always rise to the challenge, exceed all expectations and maintain their composure while doing so. They struggle with, and persevere, some of the most challenging math problems they’ve ever seen. As I type this, I am watching them tackle their second 2-hour exam this morning. And, they’re doing so with complete grace.


Humbling to say the very least.


This past school year I had the honor of being fully funded and supported to take on a project and explore an idea that I felt would improve learning outcomes for my students. The long and short of it is, I failed. Mind you it wasn’t for lack of trying. I made considerable progress, hit quite a few roadblocks, made some more progress and then stalled out. The most exciting part of the project was being able to explore my idea as much as I wanted, all while having FULL support from my students, my administration and the district level administrators.


Essentially it comes down to this… what I am trying to do WILL improve learning outcomes and I believe with all of my heart that it will completely change how we use assessments. My idea, the Flipped Kit, will make assessments the most powerful tool a teacher can use to improve learning, not to measure a student’s level of mastery. The Flipped Kit will make assessments a learning experience and will improve a student’s mindset about themselves and about math.  Although I’m currently stalled in proof-of-concept phase, I am not done trying! I may have missed the goal that was to get my project up and running this year, I am inspired by my students to continue working at it and to persevere. So, even though this school year is coming to a close, along with my tenure in the Institute for Innovation, I am going to continue working to make the necessary adjustments to the Flipped Kit in hopes of figuring out ways to overcome the current obstacles.


Every end brings a new beginning. Next school year will be one full of change for me. I will be teaching a “new” course for the first time in several years. In fact, I will be teaching a course that is entirely new to me. I will be teaching a math intervention course instead of the 8th grade pre-algebra that has consumed my life for the previous 7 years. While change is scary to me, I am very excited for the opportunities that come with teaching this new course. As I said earlier, I don’t particularly like change.


This particular change, however, is very appealing to me. I have the opportunity to work with students in a smaller setting which will allow me to truly engage with each one individually on a daily basis. I get to try and solve a problem that does not yet have a great solution… math intervention in the middle grades. I get to continue to work with my Flipped Kit in an environment that will be more conducive to getting a project like this off the ground and moving forward. So, with this school year coming to a close, please put my Blog on hold and check back in a few weeks as I continue to report on the changes and improvements I make.


Have a great summer!