Reader Appreciation: Jonathan

November is Reader Appreciation Month at So You Want To Teach? Today’s featured reader is Jonathan.

1149239_time_for_math_1Name: Jonathan
Location: The Bronx
Occupation: High School Math teacher
Blog: JD2718

Tell me some of your favorite things about your job
I love kids and I love math. How many jobs can combine them? I guess the guy at the carnival who counts the kids getting on the rides, but he has to clean puke, so that’s out of the question. Honestly, I can, in the space of 55 minutes, (on a good day) get booed for telling a bad joke, discuss planetary motion or the etymology of “radish,” clearly explain how a new-for-them algebra technique flows from their previous knowledge, give a challenging extension problem and get some enthusiasm going for it (for math!), help kids who just don’t get it to actually get it, and still find time for a quick game. I feel like a game show host who doesn’t have to fake it.

Tell me some things you loved about your favorite teacher(s)
I really liked lots of my teachers. I was lucky enough to grow up valuing knowledge for its own sake, and these people were smart, and they were teaching me. Especially my math teachers. Working backwards: Mr. Oliver. Mr Trachtenberg. Ms. Shinkman I didn’t like, but I went back and visited her classroom a few years ago, and it was really nice to be there and to talk… Ms. Powell didn’t teach us (I should blog about that)… Ms Wociecowski was incredible… I wasn’t so impressed by my 7th grade pre-algebra teacher (whose name I don’t recall – but our science teacher, Ms. Slicer, she taught significant digits and error, and all sorts of units stuff. She was the first science teacher to show me that much math….)… Continuing backwards Mr. Lurie, Mr. Dufek (multiple senses of fraction division – serious stuff), Mr. Alogna (who used techniques that made a lot of sense to me… 4th grade teacher, but his arithmetic lessons color my algebra teaching today), Ms. Borocco (and her student teacher Ms. Mendyk who impressed me by having so few vowels in her name, but who also discovered that I was performing long multiplication in a ‘deviant’ way, but let me continue as long as I knew the standard algorithm as well. Bravo to her and to SCSC), Mrs. Davidson (who used to stop me and Martin from working in the math corner, because we would have sat there all day if we could), Miss Meyers, and Miss Finkel (I learned lots of addition facts and multiplication facts by trying to build things with her Cuisenaire Rods.) I think Trachtenberg stands out. He loved the math, and stood and front of us and talked. And wrote on the board. And he loved it. There was enthusiasm, unbridled enthusiasm for the material. We were an honors class, and at least some of us ate it up. I learned far later that he wasn’t as popular in regular classes… for what are now obvious reasons. He was one of my oldest teachers, and he died well before I returned to visit. I would have liked to thank him.

List some of your most effective classroom management strategies

  1. I teach kids the pattern: I give instructions, you follow instructions. I never explicitly mention it. But on day 1 I give kids really easy things to do, like raise your hand if your last name begins with “G.” I assign seats. I have them fill in basic info cards. I stand them up, sit them down. They just get used to following what they are told.
  2. I get to know them really fast. Names in less than a week, absolutely. As many little conversations outside of class as possible. I assign “math autobiographies” early, and learn more about them.
  3. I establish as few rules as possible, and then jealously enforce the ones I have. Too many rules mean too many things for me to track.
  4. To keep focus, you need to break focus. I never expect half an hour of silent attention to anything. If I am lecturing, I will interrupt myself. Jokes. Stories. Off-topic nonsense. Discussion of what is happening elsewhere in school. Random knowledge. I sometimes plan two different kinds of work, so that they will need to take out notebooks, or put them away, or move desks, or stop writing and start talking…
  5. Share control. I run the class, not the kids. But where there are choices that control the environment, and where there really is a choice, I give the kids that control. Which game will we play today (if we finish fast)? Would you like to take the quiz now, or go over homework first? Do you want sparkly stickers or smelly stickers? I even make going to the board something that they choose to do. Kids get told what to do all the time. If my classroom is a place where they get to make some decisions…
  6. Enthusiasm. That’s just my teacher personality. If I get excited about the math, maybe I look silly, but students listen and pay attention. I am more manic on than any of the kids.
  7. Focus on what needs to actually get done. If I know that, then I can ‘waste’ time productively. I can let kids work out some of that built up energy, or have light conversations. We can have fun while we work. I never walk into a class thinking “we’ll see how far we get” – I have a target, we reach it, and the other time, to the extent that it exists, I use to build a class that kids are comfortable in, that they look forward to coming to each day.

Name (up to) three other blogs that you frequently visit/subscribe

On the other hand
IT Service Management Foundation (ITEL), which is also recognized as BH0-001 test, is actually an ISEB certification. Another related field is CISA, which is basically an audit professional certification. Now it’s a globally accepted standard test of achievement. ISC is the executive association that organizes and administers the CISSP certification test. E20-040 is one f the most sought out IT certifications.


About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

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