Today started out rough and then got better.
It started out rough because I had a fight with the copy machine. We currently still are not on speaking terms.
After that, my first block class was essentially a disaster. When my students left, I was straightening up the room talking to myself, “That was so bad. Why was that so bad?”
Usually my first block class is decently engaged for math first thing in the morning.
Today I got “I don’t like math. I’m confused. Why are we doing this.”
This was a little discouraging but I’m used to hearing those things so it wasn’t all that bad. However there seemed to be a low level of mutinous feelings throughout the block that I had never felt from this group before. No one was responding to questions or volunteering answers. Everyone was silent and stared down at their desks.
The issue is really that I am not Dan Meyer. No matter how many sweater vests I wear.
(That was a joke. It’s okay to laugh.)
I tried Dan’s “How Tall Is The Teacher Measured In Styrofoam Cups” activity today. He adapted it for a “first day” activity and although I didn’t use it on the first day, I thought it would be a way to engage the students and is related to equation solving (which is what the lesson was on) even though we aren’t on linear equations quite yet. (I downplayed that aspect. I may bring back cups as a familiar context once we get around to that despite of how today went.)
First block did NOT like it. This is where I got the “I don’t like math”s and so on. The task is decently open-ended I think I made them very uncomfortable. I try to get the students to share ideas and talk but I do a lot of explaining still. (I’m not opposed to some amount of Direct Instruction in the math classroom. I just want students to engage with the material and each other as well.) It was more freedom than I think they knew what to do with. My goal is to help them get to that independence but I thought this was a good activity to start with, but I’m not sure that I taught the lesson “correctly”. In fact, in all of times that I have taught that lesson to various classes (college, middle, and high school) I am not sure if I have taught it correctly. Need someone to watch to do it well. I’m rambling. Sorry. I’m too tired to organize my thoughts on this more clearly.
The TL;DR version is I think the students weren’t quite ready for the lesson and I didn’t implement it properly but I’m not deterred and I’m going to keep pushing them to be more independent and ask them to do tasks where I don’t tell them exactly how to do it first.
But also I think I had planned my overall lesson poorly. I thought it would be good to do that activity first and then the lecture/note taking part with group attempts second.After the disastrous first bell I swapped it around and did the cups activity second. This made the activity go marginally better but I still had some very reluctant students. I am not Dan Meyer. (I’m not trying to be, but I did want to use his lesson here.)
I also had to take a student out of class today and talk to him about how he speaks to the girls in my class. He made an inappropriate comment towards one. I don’t know if communicated the “that isn’t allowed in my class” well enough . I also spoke to the student who the comment was directed towards outside and told her that I wasn’t going to allow that to happen in my class and I wanted her to feel comfortable there. I don’t know if I handled that situation in the right way but I have never had to deal with that before. I made sure to call on both on the male student to communicate that I still wanted him to be a part of the class and after the rebuke there was no further issue on my part.
I’m wondering if my middle block usually responds to questions best not because of the students that are in there but because of the time. It’s not too early in the morning but it’s also not the end of the day. (Although it is right before lunch so I get a lot of “I’m hungry”s. I just tell them that I’m hungry too but that I’m always hungry. Which is true.)
More stuff happened today, but it’s late and I’m satisfied with this.
Thanks for reading!