In a Mirror

With 9 class days to go (gasp – just finishing circles…), I cannot believe the year is almost over.  It’s been a good year – despite my early early schedule (arrival at 7 am) – and I am already looking at myself as I teach, planning what I will do better next year.  Image

  1. Increase class participation, perhaps by cold calling? – or finding SOME way to get everyone participating.  I can see so clearly that many students are just letting their classmates do the heavy lifting, but it also varies from class to class.  I teach 3 sections of Geometry (and thus the same lesson 3 times each day), and there is a wide variation in the number of hands that will be raised to answer any given question.  But in one of my classes, I can now see a number of students who look down, look at the window, look anywhere but at me or at the board when a question is asked.  Not a heartening thing to see.  I think that if I begin the year with a lot of cold calling, then all students will get used to answering in class, and being ready to answer.  I have made this resolution before, but I would REALLY like next year to be the year I make it stick.
  2. Get the students to do more of the work – I have been told on occasion that I am ‘doing too much of the work’, which means that (a) the class is too teacher-centered, and (b) I could be a little easier on myself!  In my Discrete Math classes, I have done a good job of giving the work over to the kids – they have been working in pairs/groups for most of the current unit, Linear Programming, although the beginning of the unit was heavily teacher-centered because they needed that support to learn the process.  But in Geometry, with the end of term and Regents exam bearing down on me, I am delivering content as fast as I can.  This is not to say it has been this way all term – in fact, quite the opposite – but I really feel it, and don’t like it.  Yesterday, we covered tangent and secant segments, and I could feel how dry the lesson was, especially by the 3rd go-round.  Luckily, my 3rd Geometry class is the most good-natured and has the highest level of participation, so the proof of those theorems was the liveliest it had been all day.  I love that I end my day with that class.
  3. Employ helpers like crazy – Along the lines of the previous bullet, I need to give over mundane tasks to the kids, who enjoy doing them (erasing boards, distributing papers – or less mundane, tekky tasks) and even earn a sense of pride from their execution.  I don’t think I want any help grading –  although I should perhaps think of some grading tasks that students can assist on – but anything that will help (a) lessen my load and (b) help them feel special is a win-win.
  4. Incorporate fun more frequently – This I am definitely NOT good at, even though I do inject a lot of humor into my lessons.  But the fun games and activities do not come naturally to me.  There is such a wealth of resources out there, particularly in the Math Twittoblogosphere, and a lot of people generously sharing their implementation ideas, that I am committing to pushing myself in this direction.  I will set a measurable goal for myself.

But I have done many good things this year as well, and I am going to REFLECT and write about them this coming week.

BTW – the picture has nothing to do with math, but it is a sketch that my daughter included as part of her senior portfolio for her recently acquired BFA in Costume Design from Rutgers University.  Proud mama?  You betcha!

Cheers!

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One comment

  1. Fawn Nguyen

    I thought about writing a similar post then gave up because the list of what I can do better keeps growing. It seems endless. Sigh.

    Beautiful sketch by your daughter, congratulations. Thank you, Wendy.

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