Thursday, April 9, 2015

Day 137: I Spy With My Mathematical Eye

Since I have yet to find a reliable way to redirect some of my more disruptive students, and my energy levels are very low, I decided to go back to the tactic of waiting.  It worked fairly well in my 1st period.  The students who were interested did an acceptable job of patrolling those who weren't, keeping them in check and redirecting the behavior themselves.  It made it much less stressful for me since I didn't have to worry about being the classroom police, my least favorite part if this job.

I HATE being the bad guy.

Education is all about building relationships with students and if my first interactions with students is to tell them that they are violating dress code, the cell phone policy, need to go to homeroom, etc., then it make those relationships MUCH harder to build.

Especially when I have no way to enforce any of the rules that I have to enforce.

I try to make up for it by saying "please go to homeroom" after I greet them warmly and ask how their day is going, but they see through it.  And they know that the conversation can essentially go like:

"Good morning, guys. How's it going?"
"Glad to hear it.  Could you head to homeroom please?"
"Guys, head to homeroom."
"I'm good. You can write me up."
**walks away dejected and angry**

It's exhausting.  I don't mind being the bad guy on occasion, but having to do it every day is ... exhausting.

In my classroom, I can mitigate some of it by having more personal interactions with my students, but there are many in the school with whom the only interaction I have is negative.

After several parent phone calls yesterday, the behavior was a bit better.  I still had to remove several students from my 8th period to show that I was done playing, but overall, it was a huge improvement.

Thanks to a comment on yesterday's post, I was directed to a great blog post by Jessica Murk, who is doing awesome stuff!

The quality activity that we did yesterday falls into a category of problems called Bongard Problems.  These are a great way to get students to develop definitions of their own.

"Here are a list of examples of a polygon.  Here are things that are not.  How do you define a polygon?"

We started by doing several as a class, starting with simple shapes.  They got progressively harder and I could actually smell the mental sweat, which was AWESOME!

It got a bit out of hand in Geometry with students wanting to develop their own rules.  I suspect that if I sneak up on them in the cafeteria tomorrow, they will be playing this game, which is a more interesting version of "I Spy."

"Can we do this again tomorrow??"

Perhaps, child.  Perhaps...


  1. What are other teachers doing, so that kids prefer that you write them up?

    1. Administration is inundated with referrals so write-ups that read "wouldn't go to homeroom" usually get a verbal warning.

  2. This is fantastic! I'm so excited to hear that the Bongard problems were a success! My students loved coming up with their own and then quizzing each other. It's a beautiful thing! Keep up the great work!

    1. I think we need to work on a better process for identifying the rules. It was total chaos. :-)


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