Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Do Not Go Quietly...

"Do not go quietly into your classroom. Engage. Be brave." *


I love that first sentence. Ironic,** in that several times each day I tell my class to enter the classroom qui-et-ly...

Anyway, on to today's frustrating issue, I'm sure largely compounded by this month's All Day But Could Have Been Completed In Three Hours Max Grade Level Meeting.

The Dilemma: I go back to class, start looking at the Math Homework turned in today, and see "0/12" -- dang, poor kid doesn't get it, I'll work with her tomorrow... -- then another "0/12" and a "1/12" and I check to see if it's the Chatty Cathy Trio. After 7 more papers the highest score I've seen is "3/12" so I look at the calendar for April Fool's Day. Nope, still on the first of next month! A few more dismal scores and I toss my hands, and the homework, high in the air in complete disbelief and frustration. Dang, I suck. What went wrong?

The Solution: Time Travel.  Before my Math class walks in I'll change the dates back to Tuesday and start the whole lesson all over again. I thought it was engaging and informative, we had guest speakers (some ancient Greek guy and the boys on BrainPOP) and worked through some problems together. Okay, the whole pi concept is weird, and some of the boys may have been distracted by drooling ("Mmmm, pie!") but overall I had no reason to believe the day was a total flop. I get a do-over. A mulligan. A move your player back when you're not looking. Wait, that last one is for Parchesi. But I WILL teach you this lesson again and I WILL teach it better and I WILL check for comprehension and I WILL scaffold and support until my legs start shaking and you WILL reward my dedication with demonstrations of your understanding and competence on the homework, the quiz, the chapter test, the CST, your SAT, and the way you raise your children! Bring us your finest meats and cheeses!

But Then... : I thought, wait. I couldn't have screwed it up that bad. C'mon, it was just circumference and area of a circle. Plug the numbers into the formula. The formula is in the textbook. And in their notes. And easily accessible online. I'll even bet more than 5 parents know at least one of the formulas, and can tell his or her dear inquisitive child, probably with a tear in their eye as a long-ago math teacher is fondly remembered...
So no going back, at least not quietly nor gently. But not loudly, in the hollering sense, I'm not that kind of teacher, just not quietly as in I cannot passively watch children not learn. They must learn to listen, to participate, to ask questions, to take notes, to say "Huh? I don get it." To take the book home and to OPEN it. And tomorrow, to memorize the formula for area and circumference.

Is writing it 50 times enough, or should I make 'em do 100?

The quote at the top, by the way, is the link to a book which I haven't yet looked into but the phrase caught my eye and Inspired me.





*I almost ended the quote after "classroom" since whenever I hear "engage" it's in Captain Picard's deep voice.
**Alanis Morrissette ruined the term irony for me, I never know if I've used it correctly or if it's going to rain on my wedding day.

2 comments:

Teachinfourth said...

I feel your pain...I get that sometimes with my 5th graders, too. Lately we've been working on Pi (to celebrate National Pi Day on the 14th) and I have a few kids who still just don't quite get it...

Joel said...

I knew pi was the out there concept not everyone would be clear on, but plugging in the numbers and doing simple multiplication should have been fine.
We did go back, donning tin foil hats and riding in hula hoops, and started the lesson all over. Now some of my kids that go to another room for Math are mad because I never time travel with them...