Complain Less, Learn More

We just finished perpendicular bisectors and I found an activity in my book. It involved a map, three fire stations, and a house. Students had to fold and cut and such to form the perpendicular bisectors and to decide which fire station was the closest to the house.

I had given them very detailed instructions (see here) but I was fully expecting to hear the complaining, whining, and annoying comments such as "I quit, I don't know what we're doing, I don't even know what you're talking about, What do we do now, I don't know what to do next".

I just prefaced the activity with a little speech about how I would not be responding to any of those comments. I told them if they needed help, I would be glad to help them but they could only ask me a specific question, no whining allowed.  

And...it worked. Students were cutting, drawing, folding, but most importantly, following directions. The classroom environment was much more peaceful and I realized yet another reason why that class drains me. The negative energy is just too exhausting. I should have made this rule from the very beginning. It's such an obvious thing to say but it's just another example of how I fail to communicate my expectations, and end up upset when they are not met.

I also modified a perpendicular activity from @crstn85. My plan was that after doing the first activity, they would know how to do the second activity with less instruction. We didn't get to it but I really like the idea of measuring and converting between centimeters and miles. Maybe I will use that one instead next year.

Baby steps.

1 comment:

  1. I like your blog. Are you familiar with the work of the Math Coaching Consortium at West Contra Costa Unified School District. You might be interested in looking at there web site.