I can’t believe that it has already been three years since I have left Barnard (although, one can never truly leave Barnard). For the past three years I have been working at the High School of Language and Innovation. It is a public high school in central Bronx, with students from all over the world - Central and South America, Western Africa, Yemen, Albania, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, China, Vietnam, and Italy. I am really glad that at Barnard we had such a focus on teaching English Language Learners because I have needed those skills everyday! I mostly teach Algebra I, but I also have taught Computer Science, Economics, Algebra II, and Calculus. However, I think I learn more from my students than they learn from me.
I am very grateful for my studies in the Barnard Education program, especially my student teaching experiences. They taught me how to handle the stress and gave me much needed support with Professor Rivera and my cooperating teacher, Rachel Parsons. That being said, in the beginning teaching was quite a challenge. I got to work early at 7:30 am, left around 8:00 pm, then got home and worked for a couple more hours, inevitably falling asleep on the couch. In my first year I taught 9th grade Algebra, Computer Science, and Calculus. It was a lot to plan for and I was not very good at managing the class. However, I received a lot of help. Calculus and Algebra were co-taught classes. Together with my co-teachers and other members of our math department team, we planned units, assessments, and lessons together. I was able to draw on their previous experiences, which helped a lot! With their support and feedback from administrators, I learned valuable techniques. One is the Ladder of Consequences. Having a set routine helped me know how to address misbehavior. Here is the ladder as it is implemented in our school now:
I often repeat steps 1 and 2 several times before moving to the third step and sometimes I add in “Move your seat”. This has been a really helpful tool and I wish all new teachers knew about it!
This past year has been much more manageable! I have gotten the hang of planning lessons - I can plan them much faster and better than I did before. I still get to school at 7:30, but I leave around 6:00 and I don’t take work home (except for the weekends). It has even been easier despite the fact that I have started my Master’s in Computer Science. In the beginning, I usually received “Developing” in my observation reviews, but now I usually am reviewed as “Effective”. I’m also excited to have received tenure! In addition, this coming year I will be the Math Department Chair. For all new teachers - It does get easier!