We have these lists we start as children. They are full of all the thing our parents are doing that we will NEVER do to our kids.
1. I will never imitate my child’s tantrum as a family joke (My parents do a really good me: push over chair, yell, stomp up stairs, slam door. I was a stellar child.)
2. I will never laugh at my child when they are upset. (I got upset a lot)
3. I will never make my kid play soccer. (I only played like 2 years but I was terrible. In the words of one of students today, “I just don’t think you have the feet for soccer, Ms. G”
Then as I got to high school it turned in to a list of things my teachers did that I would never do.
1. I won’t care this much about homework.
2. I won’t give a C to a kid that tutors other students in the class (yes, I have a couple C’s in middle and high school math.)
More added after I got in the credential program but these turned in to positives:
3. I will reach my language learners
4. I will use group work (effectively)
There was one thing I hung on to through my credential year at Cal State Diversity (as I lovingly refer to it): That I would do the kind of cool things teachers do with advanced students with all my students.
1. I now look back and laugh at my own tantrums.
2. I have seen a kid get so angry it was funny (but not to the point I laughed. my parents are jerks. 😉 )
3. I don’t have kids but I did push a few girls to try out for soccer who didn’t make it.
1. I don’t care that much about homework but I assign it so infrequently I get annoyed when it’s not done.
2. I gave a C to a kid who refused to do a project given 2 weeks of classtime.
Then next two are less quantifiable
3. I connect with all my kids at some level not all about math.
4. I don’t do this nearly enough.
There is a mile long list of other things i screw up but they are not for here.
I have been doing some pretty cool discovery learning stuff with my advanced class. I assign something for homework (graph these 3 lines) have them break in to random groups. Check each others work and then answer some questions. (what do you notice about the lines on the graph? the equations of the lines? what can you get from this?) I had two groups make the sentence “perpendicular lines’ slopes are opposite reciprocal” all on their own so that was pretty much the best thing ever.
I am not doing things like this with my other classes. There just seems to be a resistance to thought (I just vomited in my mouth when I typed that but just trying to keep it real yo). I just feel like a failure today. I don’t know how to make this better. I feel like there is a chance I have created a culture that allows them not to think (vomit).
I am not a champ.
4 thoughts on “On discovering something and doing exactly what I said I wouldn’t.”
You are a champ.
One thing I try to remember — to avoid unfair advanced/regular/lower level comparisons — is that advanced students aren’t afraid to take risks in math class because they are frequently correct when they take risks. By the time students get to high school, students who struggle in math have taken many risks and failed many of those times. Even solving “thoughtless” (plugging numbers into formulas correctly, etc) problems correctly can be stressful for a lot of my students because they are so worried about getting answers wrong. For all the discussion about pushing our students to reason through extremely difficult and “messy” real-life problems, using basic procedures correctly is a victory for many students. If you add up enough of these victories, then students might not be too afraid of failure to try those more challenging problems!
( have to mention that I have students who REALLY struggle in math, as well as some honors classes.)
Whenever you feel like a failure as a teacher for not pushing your students to think, just imagine how many of your students feel like failures when they don’t do well in your class. They appreciate that you connect with them on *any* level, and will take the memory that you cared about them out the door with them at the end of the year, even if they aren’t taking a deep conceptual understanding of your class.
Hang in there!
You totally rock, Sophie. I’ve been reading your blog & tweets for a few months.
You’re frustrated for all of the right reasons. I’ve worked with many teachers before, many frustrated – for the wrong reasons, usually they blame the kids.
You, young friend, are searching for answers.
Brilliant successes you are having. Regarding overcoming the challenges of getting children to think, notice that asking questions/prompts like “What do you notice?” and “Learn something new (about your calculator)” allows every student to be right! Please consider always asking your “low level” classes the same curious questions all the time too. This, I find, is a challenging goal. But your actions can end the chicken & egg cycle.
You are awesome, in case you hadn’t heard.