Bonnie Basu, a secondary mathematics teacher in California, writes the “Reflect, Revise, Repeat” blog. She started the blog in June 2020. On Twitter, Basu describes herself as “trying to teach teenagers to think mathematically for a quarter of a century.”
There are currently nine posts on the blog. Here are a few of the ones I recommend checking out:
This is the first post that Basu wrote. She describes why she decided to start the blog now after thinking for a decade about writing one.
She wrote that instead of focusing on the number of years she’s been teaching, she typically reflects on her growth. “Am I making the same mistakes as I did during my first years? Or even last year? Why did I make those mistakes? What did I learn from those mistakes? Who can I turn to for mentorship to help me grow as a teacher? And I try to do this continuously,” she noted. She used this idea to come up with the name of her blog.
“My Plan” posts
Last fall, Basu wrote some “My Plan” posts, including “My Plan: Week 1,” “My Plan: Week 2,” and “My Plan: Week 3 and 4” about how she handled distance learning for the first month of the semester. There are points scattered throughout that I thought were great.
For instance, in her Week 1 post, she wrote:
“The only way of communicating with families is email or individual phone calls. That made it extremely challenging and frustrating that our automated phone system wasn’t set up so we can at least call en mass. (By the way, it’s still not set up and it has been 5 working days.) I have been calling home, but it’s a slow go. I can get through about 5 each day before I have to stop. Most take a lot of time because I am fluent in only one language – the one I am currently writing in. And the district doesn’t have a department solely dedicated to helping teachers translating which is very strange considering how many of our families are more comfortable speaking a variety of other languages.”
Another thing that resonated with me was her discussion of how disconnected students have felt from their teachers and each other, along with her ideas for building community in a virtual setting.
In her Week 2 post, something that stuck with me was her discussion of her desire to help students become more independent and the challenges that come with cultivating that independence with distance learning. She wrote:
“Over 80% of the student population is highly dependent. And mostly because of all the hand holding that goes on from when they are little. Just because kids are from a vulnerable and disadvantaged area, does not mean they cannot. But that is the mindset that so many educators have. If kids are given the opportunity and have scaffolding in place, success will happen.
I help students become more independent when in the classroom, but I am really struggling with it virtually.”
By her Week 3 and 4 post, Basu started using the phrase “distance surviving” instead of distance learning. She wrote “I feel like I am riding a rollercoaster in the dark. (I don’t like rollercoasters nor do I like the dark.)” She discussed a situation where many kids didn’t complete an assignment and how she handled that.
This is the first post Basu wrote in 2021 and I think it’s a good one to discuss in closing out my post. She opens with this relatable paragraph:
“I have had many challenges in my teaching career, but nothing like I experienced over the last 9 months (as every single teacher). Every day was like starting all over. I had no idea what I was doing and was just trying to survive each day while keeping my students’ education and social-emotional well being at the forefront.”
She details the importance of teachers knowing their audience and making slow changes with students to give them time to acclimate. Reflecting on the previous semester, she wrote that she had “wanted to weave in assignments that would support a healthy mental state and allow them to forget the world, even if it was for a few minutes.” Based on the feedback she received from her students, it sounds as if she met that goal.
She also wrote about switching gears from giving weekly assignments she hoped would teach her students time management to assigning activities that were more fun, such as ones in Desmos.
Have an idea or suggestion you would like to share? Reach out in the comments or on Twitter (@writesRCrowell).