Monday, March 9, 2015

Day 117: "You Don't Teach Us"

The fight is gone and I'm not going to stress about it.  I can't MAKE them do the work and I need to be ok with that.

Today, I checked 7 pages that we have been working on for the last 2 weeks.  The average was 2 pages completed.

I didn't get angry, I didn't scold them.  I thanked them for the work that they completed and told them I was looking forward to seeing the rest as soon as they finished it.  I walked around the room with my whiteboard, answering question and encouraging kids to get back on task.  I sat with small groups and discussed functions, slope and initial values.

The major benefit to this approach is that I can clearly see who is working and who is lost.  A few students who I thought were completely lost remembered material and concepts from previous lessons and were simply working slowly.

With 27 students in the class, it's very hard to give everyone the personal attention that they need or want.  With whole group instruction, it's often too easy to get hung up on the distractions and forget the quiet students who are on task.

Working with individuals or small groups, I can take a closer look at their work, correct misconceptions, have discussions and get a MUCH better sense for their mastery of the material.

Are there students who are off task?  Yes.

But most of these students would be off task during whole group instruction anyway.

One of my students who has spent a large portion of my class with his head down, book closed and talking over me accused me today of "not having taught in a month."

I managed to get my rage under control and we had a discussion about it where every question I asked him was answered with "I don't know."

Me: "I'm sorry you feel that I haven't been teaching.  I'm here now. What would you like me to teach you?"
Student: "I don't know."
M: "Alright. Let's start at the beginning of the section. Read number 1 for me."
S: "Determine if the function is linear."
M: "Good. What does it mean for a function to be linear."
S: "I don't know."
M: "Alright. What do you THINK it means?  What does the word sound like?"
S: "I don't know."
M: "Take a moment to think about it."
S:  **maintains eye contact without focusing**
M: "What do you think?"
S: "I don't know."
M: "Alright.  Turn back to the previous page that say 'Linear and Non-Linear Functions' and read the first paragraph."
S: **flips back**
M: "What does it say?"
S: "I don't know."


If this was painful for you to read, imagine how painful it is to live, knowing that the student wants me to give up and go away so that he can continue to feel that I've given up on him.

I am really looking forward to spending my retirement fund replacing the hair that I'm tearing out.

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