When I taught these concepts and checked how they were doing with it, they were doing fairly well. I was trying to figure out what was different - why they were doing so well. I know I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, but I needed to know what went RIGHT after so many years of struggling. I can only pinpoint a few things:

- this group of kids has been under the old curriculum a longer time (not buying this one... last year's group only had one less year and they did horrible)
- I've been highly influenced by the Math Twitterblogosphere and I finally figured out how to explain it well. :-)
- We had a different Algebra 1 teacher for the first time in 5 years.

Their previous teacher was a first year teacher last year. Sadly, he is no longer with my district. He and his new wife have settled in a different area based on where she was able to find a teaching job and he was able to find a job closer to her. I totally get that - I was there once also (took me 5 years to get in the same place as my now-husband). Family has to come first. But I am still sad that he isn't my (direct) teaching colleague anymore. Now, don't get me wrong, he was not perfect. But, he did a great job with teaching the students I have now. His classroom management was quite good for a first year teacher. He held his students to high standards and they achieved them, and retained a good part of the information he taught them. Did they all remember the information right away? No, but with a little reminding, they remembered pretty quickly that they had been taught functions and they understood the notation.

Quadratics are up next for us and I had hopes before finishing grading papers that I may be able to skip the multiplication of binomials and polynomials. I still have quite a few students struggling with it. However, I am confident with a little more practice, they'll get it again. It is amazing what a difference a year makes. A different teacher, who truly cares about teaching and teaching mathematics to the best of his ability, makes a considerable difference. I am hoping that his successor is as good of a teacher as this first year teacher was. I'll be curious to see how my former colleague develops as a teacher. I am confident that if he continues on the track he began as a first year teacher, he will be a great teacher. I am grateful that my students had him last year and that his students came to me well-prepared.

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