Mondays are busy for me with tutoring from 4-5 and also there was a staff meeting for all teachers so I am just now getting to the daily reflection post.
I gave the unit one test today so in a way I got a little break. Of course, the first half the class (I teach blocks) was the bellringer, attendance, and usual routine. And then we went over the practice test together. But the second half I merely had to keep an eye on students while they took the test. I have to confess that I am a little torn. I hate to ruin a perfectly good weekend, but Mondays are kind of a nice day to give a test as far as scheduling for the week goes. It gives the students extra time to study but I am doubtful that they take advantage of it. We have delayed starts on Wednesdays in our district and I know that the shortened time I will have then is when I will go over the exams with the classes and return them.
Perhaps I will try Tuesday next time and see if they do any better. (I will also try Fridays. Some of my classes were so restless on Friday that scheduling tests then may be easier on me than this Monday test.) I have some experimentation to do. All I know is that classroom management seems a lot easier when you don’t have to differentiate between talk about math and talk about not math.
Related to that is seating. I was speaking with another teacher after school today who is new to my district and whom I made friends with during on-boarding. I had moved my desks from groups of three back to the traditional row setting for the test administration. I have to admit that during the first half of the class while I was reviewing with the students and having them talk to me and answer questions, it was easier to control misbehavior when they sat in rows.
But I want my seating to communicate to them how we will do math in my class: together with students helping each other and me directing and guiding. I don’t just want compliance and I know that education circles I float in and out of on #mtbos (math-twitter-blogosphere) love to talk against compliance, but it’s hard to deny that when I am managing the classroom well it at least feels like the students are learning more. (And certainly I think it is true that when students are on task more learning should be happening, I am just trying to differentiate between me feeling in control of the class and learning experiences happening in my class.)
I think the answer to this is simply that I need to get better at directing the class when they are sitting in groups and creating a classroom culture of focus and work. I know this takes time. Time for me to get better at that aspect of my job and time for the students to get accustomed to that expectation and respond accordingly. Despite my miscues and mistakes with classroom management, my inexperienced perception is that I am very lucky to have the group of students that I have. I think overall they are great and a lot of issues just come from the fact they’re all 14.
Another thought that popped in my head today (and who knows the truth of it) is that I am simultaneously doing better than I think and also probably worse than I think. If that makes any sense. I don’t know.
So there isn’t a whole lot else to report today because of the test. Today was Mathematician Monday and I talked about Sophie Germain. I’m going to have to pass off the biographies to the students soon or else I am going to take all of them myself, haha.
My biggest concern right now is finding a groove with grading. A lot of my grading practices, shaped by my beliefs about and experiences in education, are difficult to implement here in the public high school setting in the same way that I had been doing at the college level. Of course, I learned about SBG from teachers who were doing SBG in a public high school setting, so there is no reason I cannot do it. I was just thrown off my feet the first few weeks and I am just now getting an idea of how it will work in the new system (and hopefully be conducive to student learning).