Hey all and welcome to my blog! I wanted to start my first post by telling you a little bit about my year and what school has been like. I work at a Title I school in Mesa, Arizona. More than 75% of my students are on a free or reduced lunch program. I’ve been teaching math here for six years. I have taught a variety of math courses including pre-algebra, math remediation classes (skill-builder) and intervention, where students would spend lunch periods with me working on different concepts. I’ve taught inclusion math classes with special-education teachers as well, but this year takes the cake. The program this year is a pilot program, something new to me as a teacher and also uncharted territory for my students.
We’re fortunate to have a very innovative principal who is all about what’s best for our students. Honestly, she has the kind of mindset every teacher and administrator should have. Towards the end of the last school year she approached select teachers in our school about her ideas for the pilot program. She wanted to create a school within a school. The program would include project-based learning with a flexible bell schedule designed by the teachers, I was hooked immediately. The ability to create our own bell schedule to make sure the students have the time to truly learn and master the content is a wonderful concept.
Over the past six years I’ve realized education needs a change, and I think the rest of the state of Arizona would agree. Unfortunately though, change in the education system is very difficult. There’s so much focus on state testing and I think we’ve forgotten the most important part of education: the process of learning. That’s what this pilot program is meant to do: create learners out of students and put the focus into mastery of content, not just focus on state test scores.
So, last summer after hours upon hours of planning and attempting to organize what we thought this year would be like, we took a trip to San Diego to visit High Tech High. HTH offers students the opportunity to apply to the school and enroll in their innovative learning program The entire school curriculum is built around the style of learning we are now offering our students. It’s basically a lottery of getting accepted into the school because the students want to be in this learning atmosphere. It was amazing to observe teachers and students and discuss what they do and how they do it. We knew we would be tackling a new program, but until we visited their school, we honestly had no idea what to expect.
Fast forward to the end of the first half of this year: we’re far from perfect. This year has been full of ups and downs, but I have to say I love that it’s different and that I’m not doing the same thing every, single, day. I’ve been questioning how effective I am as a teacher through this program, and through some data analysis, my students are doing the same if not better in certain content areas. I Can't wait to see how the rest of the year turns out!
I would love to hear any of your experiences if you've had similar or what else you would be interested in hearing about this new program!