My lesson plans were not revolutionary today, but they were effective. Alternate whole class, individual, and group activities. Keep the students moving and engaged.
Some take-away’s from today:
- Assignments are always going to take longer than I expect even after I have accounted for this fact.
- Building and reinforcing a culture of collaborative mathematics through grouping desks and reinforcing student conversations is worth the extra talking that sometimes can result from the seating arrangement.
- It doesn’t matter what you do or say to get their attention, sometimes students just weren’t listening and you’re going to have to repeat it.
- Make use of what you have. I give the students open-ended and (I hope) interesting math tasks, but I also make use of the exercises in the textbook and workbooks provided to me by the district. Some open-ended tasks in Geometry are just the “Extend Your Knowledge” sections from the textbook that I change a little bit so they don’t give too much away just in the question. We received workbooks for all Foundations students this year and my knee-jerk reaction was to turn up my nose at “worksheets” but actually I have been able to make good use of them so far as a question bank. Today in Foundations we completed 2 pages as a class, but instead of sitting quietly by themselves listening to music while I circled the room we did whole class, individual, group discussion, a modified “speed dating”, and Talking Points.
My geometry class is 29 students and although I am able to get their attention, they are difficult to wrangle sometimes and it is VERY difficult to get around and help everyone in an efficient manner. There are just too many students to help. However, I enjoy teaching Geometry and the students themselves are pretty good for the most part. (It helps that they are not freshman, but then again, they aren’t “scared” of me like freshman are.)
I am incredibly pleased with how both of my Foundations classes are going so far. I really feel that most of the students are responding well. Comparing this year to last year it’s as though I am teaching completely different courses. I was really, really happy with a conversation that both of my Foundations classes had about whether there is a Commutative Property of Subtraction and if it was true that a-b=b-a. The students discussed their opinion using Talking Points and then we spoke as a class about it. One reason that I enjoy being a teacher is hearing students realize or make connections about how something in math works. It bring me genuine joy. I like my job, as hard as it is.
Today I said to a colleague, “I liked my job last year. I mean, it was hard, but I liked it.” And he responded, “No, you were really frustrated last year,” which is the truth. I was really frustrated last year. There were moments that I liked, but I was frustrated a lot. This year (as everyone says) has been much better so far. I am sure I will have frustrating days this year too, but I am glad to the ratio of enjoyment to frustration seems to have flipped.
Thanks for reading.