Monday - November 3, 1997
It looks like I will be teaching a maximum of 12 more days. I say "maximum"
because it depends on how long I will be gone for interviews and when
exactly student teaching gets over. The schedule claims that I have to
teach through finals week. This seems a little odd to me... In any event,
Maureen says that she is dreading when I am gone. She sat in 5th hour
today and observed the "lack of a clue" that I refer to often in these
entries. She said she doesn't know how she'll handle it when she is the
only one around to answer the "stupid" questions. I know what she means.
It's really frustrating to teach a concept every way you know and see
a bunch of kids just not getting it. What makes it worse is when the
concept is really simple... I normally feel like I'm doing a bad job
teaching when that happens, but when it happened today, Maureen was
watching and she said that she didn't know of any other way to explain
it either. Given her 10 years of teaching experience, that makes me
feel a little better.
Algebra II wasn't quite so bad. I had to explain a few things in a
little more detail then I had wanted to, but with the exception of a few
that rarely get anything from the class, most of them got it in the
end. We covered graphing systems of inequalities. The biggest problem
is still graphing the lines themselves. This mystifies both Maureen and
I. How hard can it be graphing y=2x+1?
Both Geometry classes were taking the chapter test today. I haven't
looked at them, yet, so I don't know how they did. Hopefully, pretty good.
In 4th hour Algebra I, I covered solving inequalities using
multiplication and division. The only difference between solving
inequalities that way and solving equations is that you need to reverse the
inequality sign when multiplying or dividing by a negative number. I
explained to the class why this is but I'm not sure that many of them
understood what I was talking about. In any event, they memorized that
they need to "flip the sign". We'll see how long that bit of knowledge
I already described a little what 5th hour was like. The first thing
I did was hand back the quizzes they took on Friday. The median score on
it was 100%! The class average was an 'A'. This put them in a good mood
and boosted their confidence a bit. I moved on to solving inequalities
using addition and subtraction. Since the steps are exactly the same,
there wasn't any confusion there. The confusion came in my explanation
of how to check if your solution is correct. I explained that checking
only a potentially valid solution will not always assure a correct
solution. For instance, if a student solved x+2>7 as x>9 (an
incorrect solution), the check could still work out. The check, in
this case would involve substituting some number in the solution set into
the original equation to see if it still holds true. So a student
would put 10 into the equation and get 12>7, which is true! I told
the class that to prevent this, they need to also check some number that
is not in the solution set to make sure it doesn't work.
The class as a whole just did not get this. I worked on that concept
for a good 20 minutes before it seemed to me that the majority of the
class understood it. Even then, there was a select group of "rocks"
that still didn't get it.
I'm not sure what to do with Phil. He just will not stop talking.
I've moved him to all four corners of the room, I've kept him after class,
I've yelled at him, I've made him stand in the front of the room and in
the back of the room. No matter what I do, though, Phil insists on
talking. He even talks when he's being punished! What do you do with
someone who just will not shut up?
I think I'll try kicking him out of class next. If that doesn't work,
I'll have to either call his parents or have a talk with Craig. If he
continues to be disruptive, we might need to remove him from the classroom.
It's stuff like this that makes me glad that I'm not going into
teaching immediately after I graduate...