Beyond the Red Pen: Meet Tim, Middle School Math

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Meet Tim, a 7th and 8th grade math teacher in Las Vegas, Nevada. Learn more about how he does spontaneous crowd control and why Friday afternoons are better used to grade than to rush out the door for the weekend!

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What is your current location?
Monaco Middle School in Las Vegas, NV

What subject and grade (s) do you teach?
7th and 8th grade mathematics

What is your favorite teaching accessory?
A bag of jolly ranchers for spontaneous crowd control.

Tips and tricks on making the best “teacher lunch?”
Do not make the meals large or 5th and 6th period will take advantage of your sluggishness.

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gradingWhat’s your favorite time to grade and why?
Fridays after school so I don’t have to think about it all weekend.  Usually, I’m more relaxed and more understanding of students’ mistakes.  I also am highly motivated to finish my grading because afterwards my weekend will begin.

What is your must have grading tool/utensil?
A trash can.  Just kidding.  I don’t really use one type of writing utensil.  For in class grading, a clipboard is essential.

How do you find grading “zen?”
Music and a nice environment (like a park or coffee shop) are key for my grading zen.  Grading doesn’t take a lot of concentration, just a lot of time.  Hence, it’s nice to have some enjoyable things surrounding you.

What is your super secret tip to grade faster that you wish all teachers knew?
I always grade homework in class on the day it’s due.  I can take attendance and grade homework the first five minutes of class, this saves me a ton of time and I am able to instantly hold students accountable for not turning in their homework.

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What is one strategy that has worked to increase student motivation?
I think for middle school, showing the students long term benefits of a good education is hard for them to fully understand.  Hence, showing them examples of short term benefits of doing well in school is much more beneficial.  For example, if a student passes the standardized test this year, they have the option to go to an awesome magnet school next year.  If a student fails the standardized test, they may be in an extra after school math class every day next year.  It’s much more palpable to the kids.

What is the best teaching advice you’ve ever received?
Find your personality in teaching.  I spent much of my first year trying to emulate others .  Only after I started to be myself in the classroom did my students begin respecting me and become engaged in my instruction.

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Do you have specific teaching shoes? If so, what are they?
Not any more.  I have gone through three pairs of black dress shoes in the past 2.5 years.  If you have any durable recommendations, I would appreciate it.

What’s the last thing you bought for your classroom?
15 dry erase markers so the students can do whiteboard activities.  The students love to use whiteboards so I believe the money is well spent.

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