Things definitely are looking up as Thanksgiving break gets closer and closer and then the ultimate...Christmas break! Then I will officially be halfway done with my first year! I also read somewhere that after winter things get better with the students and I so want to believe that. But I can't actually say that our weather here has been wintry. It will be in the 30s one night and 70s the next day. I never know if I should wear shorts or a parka. But ironically, the temperature in my classroom never changes. Hmm...
This week was full of adventures including a 12:00 dismissal on Wednesday, a tornado/fire drill that lasted 45 minutes on Thursday, standardized testing on Friday morning, our faculty potluck dinner, and the opening day of shot gun season for deer hunting. Goodness, so many distractions and time out of class. But I'm not complaining.
In algebra, we are forging ahead with this whole slope concept. I've told them we are not going to leave it until they get it. I've presented it now three different ways: counting the rise over run, using the slope formula, and finding the change in y over the change in x from an x-y table. Now we are moving onto graphing in slope-intercept form. It's been a challenge but I think they're actually getting the hang of it. I'm pretty sure they have the slope formula down which is a plus. They took a practice ACT test type thing on Friday and a couple students mentioned they knew how to find the slope so if I've done nothing else right, I know I've at least taught them that one important concept.
In geometry, we practiced generating our own Pythagorean triples as well as learning the converse of the Pythagorean theorem. Actually, I think I taught this concept backwards so it's a good thing I didn't quiz them over it yet. Hey, I'm still learning here!
Classroom management has gotten somewhat better but fifth hour still makes me want to gouge my eyeballs out. One day this week, I literally had one student paying attention and taking notes. I gave a homework assignment that two people turned in. The other students were just sitting around having casual conversation as if I was not even in there. I literally had to face the SMART board with my back to the class while the tears burned in my eyes. How's that for emo? But again I gotta keep pushing through and not hold yesterday against them today.
One super duper trooper encouraging thing did happen this week. My third hour class went from 5 students to 2 and so they went to an online curriculum. My class sort of converted to a study hall and so one of my algebra students has been coming for extra help. She's more motivated than I expected and we literally work through problems for the entire hour. She knows when she needs one more time to practice and when she gets it, she gets it. That in itself is so valuable. Anyway, I preview the material with her a little but so that by the time seventh hour rolls around she is answering questions and participating more than ever. Her previous test scores have been in the 50-70 range but this week she pulled a 95%. She gets it! Hey Mikey, she gets it! I wish there was some way to give every student this kind of one-on-one instruction.
Speaking of third hour, how the heck do I give my students a grade in the gradebook when they do all their work online? Do I give them points for working every day, points for every module mastered, points for tests passed the first time, or what? This is new territory for me.
Also, how do you deal with amount of information shared with you by the students? I have a handful of students who come to me and share these things with me, and...what do you do with that? I try not to ask questions too much because I don't want to be perceived as the nosy teacher who gossips and gets in everyone's business. Do I confront students about things that I hear? Do I act like I know nothing? Do I give advice or just listen? I'm on drama overload right now.
I figured out this week that I need to put grades in on a daily basis for my warm ups and homework assignments. I've been doing them weekly, out of 20 points or whatever. But the thing is, if students are absent (and they are, for days at a time) then they don't do the warm ups. They can make up homework but not warm ups. If I was good about collecting and grading absentee work then I would just have them make up the warm up. But I'm not good about that. I've started grading in class assignments and that hurts the students that are absent. So I realized I need to start dating the work I leave for them to pick up so both of us know when it is due. Also, maybe I should save my SMART board presentations with my writing on them so students can use those to teach themselves. The problem with that is I don't write in a way that is so easy to follow, another thing I'm learning.
Am I the only person that feels like college professors are somehow more inspiring and life-changing than any other teacher? How do they get to be so profound and awesum? Do I need to get a Master's Degree to instantly become deep, mysterious, and all-around magnanimous? Inquiring minds want to know.