I am so stinkin’ tired and I should have gone to bed over an hour ago and I just realized I had not written my post for the day.
We finally came back to school after 3 days off for the hurricane and the usual 2 day weekend. 5 days of no school made it hard for everyone. Hard for the students. Hard for me.
But the day wasn’t all that bad. Despite what I’m about to type it really wasn’t that bad of a day for coming back from a 5 day weekend.
I tried Point Collector from Desmos since we were already in the middle of inequalities. The activity exposed how much I need to teach my students how to simply read and follow directions. That’s one of my big frustrations in this course. We can’t get to the math because there’s some missing skills that aren’t even math related. Even when my class is completely silent while I give directions, they don’t listen. I need to start saying, “I’m not answering that” to questions that I LITERALLY just answered when I addressed the entire class from students who clearly just zoned out while I was talking. I am too nice sometimes. They also haven’t had a lot of experience just reading and figuring out what they are supposed to do. I think the Point Collector activity could *possibly* scaffold more at the beginning, but overall it does a good job (and it’s a great activity) but my students were so lost. I had to spoon-feed and then they started to get it.
One of my big struggles lately is how I am feeling about my professional integrity. I want to be the teacher that makes the students do math and doesn’t just show them how to solve the problems and practice. I much prefer to let the students work together and explore after I have merely set the stage and I don’t want to lower my standards for these students, but I have to deal with the reality that if don’t give them enough, they give up or are so lost that I spend the entire class running around doing individual tutoring when I should have just addressed the whole class. I’m searching for the line. How much can my students handle? So far every time I have tried a more open-ended task they have shut down. I’m fighting 8+ years of training for math class where they watch me and then copy. Even though I told them at the beginning of the year that they’ve reached the level of math where that isn’t how it works anymore. And really they can’t even always do what they’ve been trained to expect.
My students complain when we “take notes” (aka I introduce a new topic or show them an example of how to solve a problem) but then turn around and complain when I try to give them something like Point Collector. “Why are we doing this? What does this have to do with what we are learning.” These questions are coming before they have even tried the activity. I realize I have to deal with a certain level of bellyaching at all times with 9th graders, but it is wearing on me a little.
I also had to talk to two of my blocks about their work ethic.
“Look. No one can make you do anything. Not really. I can keep asking you to work and redirecting you and even give you a detention for being off-task, but you have to make the choice to work in this class and learn the material and ask for help when you need it. I can’t make you do that. You have to choose to do that.”
I don’t think it got through.
I reminded them of our class rules “Work Hard and Be Nice To People”.
Again, today wasn’t that bad. I know this sounded really negative. I’m working through it. I have good students. I don’t know how to make them focus as much as they need to focus. I’ve fallen into a rut with how I am running the class and I need to change it up. I’m rambling now. I felt better at the end of the day than I thought I would coming back from that long and unexpected break. And I’m betting tomorrow will be better but right now I need to go to sleep.
Thanks for reading.