A Culture of Expectations: The greatest EVAAS GROWTH of my Career
In 2016, I decided to leave Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and come back to my home state of North Carolina. I had my sights on Piedmont International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle School because it was an A+, predominately-African-American School. In my nine years of teaching, I had never seen or heard of anything like it so I applied to teach there. I spent my first year converting all my PA math material to NC State Standards which was a huge undertaking. I felt like a first-year teacher starting all over again. To top it all off, I knew NOTHING about IB and it was our renewal year. To top that all off, Piedmont really supported the whole child so we did many extra things that most schools did not do to support the child. To top that all off, the parents I had this first year were…too involved (read between the lines). I said all that to say that it was rough!
I contemplated leaving the profession altogether because I was getting to school at 7 am and staying until 7 pm at least three out of the five days of the week. I was even at school on a Saturday! Who goes to work on Saturday?! Towards the end of the year, I told my principal that I needed to talk to her. She was alarmed because I was so busy that I did not have time to build a relationship with her so these words meant trouble! I told her that I was contemplating leaving Piedmont and the profession altogether. She emphatically told me, “We can’t lose you!” Her advice was that I needed to find a balance in my professional life. Either I would have to come in early, and leave on time or come in later and stay later. However, I could not continue to come in early and stay late, it would wear me out! After that heart-to-heart, I decided she was right and that I would do something that I had never done in my career…
Plan over the summer
I came in a week after school was out and spent three weeks aligning all the curriculum I had encountered the year before so that I would not spend time throughout the year learning the math that I needed to teach to the kids two and sometimes one night before! It paid off!
I transformed my classroom and changed the culture
Piedmont is known for being one of the top middle schools in Charlotte, but there were still a lot of kids not passing the State Test in math. Therefore, I decided that I would capitalize on the culture of expectations of the school and change the culture of my classroom to a place where my expectations were clear and my praise was abundant.
My expectations were clear and my praise was abundant!
I began to praise kids through the texting app Remind.com for their scores and efforts on tests. I then created a bulletin board that I called Mathletes, took a picture of kids with their test scores, and posted on the bulletin board in the hallway for all to see. This is the banner you see in the article. I began to ask more conceptual questions and provide bonus points for students who answered questions and thought conceptually. I awarded students who consistently worked hard toward mastery the American Dream, CANDY! Because of the work I did over the summer, I became confident with my content and so I could think about how to present it in a way that students could understand. Let me insert this here…
I was not a horrible teacher; I was an overworked and tired teacher! I just did not have time to be a great teacher!
I have not received my EVAAS growth rate for 2018-2019 because the test is being realigned because NC standards have changed. I am certain that my students grew because I expected more from students and myself. Because of the wonderful success of my students, I created a testimonial page so that students coming into my class would see students that looked like themselves succeeding in math. Please enjoy the video and if you want to see, more videos follow the link below.
This brief article does not express how much my life changed and my classroom environment changed based on my decision to have grit instead of excuses, but these numbers don’t lie!
Thanks for reading! Please feel free to reach out to me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.