Thursday, March 04, 2010

Yeah, you’d put up with that in your own classroom…

‘Twas the week from hell and all through the school, not a creature was normal, not even the mule.

Yeah, what that has to do with anything is beyond me too.  But it’s been a week.  Ihell was out sick last Thursday and Friday, had meetings all afternoon this Tuesday and Wednesday, along with Parent-Teacher conferences those evenings.  The kids were p-s-y-c-h-o.  Today, 3rd period, I was ready to just give up.  But the craziest thing that happened this last week was at the Algebra Academy I had on Wednesday afternoon.  We were given a problem to do, a pattern to figure out, and some time to work on it.   [Click here if you’re ready for (or even interested in) the equation that is the solution] There were a lot of different ways to figure it out, the three in mypattern group each started in three different ways.  One of the methods of working it out was by using a recursive algorithm, by counting the number in one figure, seeing how many squares were added to get to the next and then the next, and so on until you see a pattern.  It turns out to be adding increasing odd numbers:

….the first one + 5 = the second one

the second one + 7 = the third one

the third one + 9 = the fourth one

the fourth one + 11 = the fifth one and so on…

So, when it’s time for the class to present their solutions, the speaker specifically asks if a group that used the recursive method wouldweek7  like to show how they worked it out, this one teacher volunteers and starts to  show how she figured it out.  Now, to be totally honest, I was sick at the time and not very interested, so I’m not sure how it got to the point, but I became interested when things started to get a little heated.  It seems that the method wasn’t really all that recursive, but the presenter was talking about the parts that  were recursive, much like most teachers do when a student doesn’t get it quite right but we still want to encourage their thinking. 

My mind started to register things when the teacher was getting  angry at the presenter and arguing about how her method was not at all recursive.  They argued for what couldn’t have been more than 30 seconds when the presenter, like many good teachers,week8 just started to move on with the lesson and started  talking about another method of working out the problem.

The teacher, who was still hot around the collar, dropped her papers on the table, turned around and walked out of the room.  I was at the very next table and heard her mumble “screw her” as she went out of the room.

Now, I’ve had, and still have, my issues with this whole Algebra week9 Academy thing, the presenters and all.  I’ve done my fair share of complaining about how they cram 15 minutes of stuff into a 3 hour class and how these presenters (there are 2 of them) haven’t been in a classroom with kids in probably over 30 years.  But I have to give credit where credit is due, she didn’t lose a beat and kept the lesson going, despite the rest of the teachers evolving from stunned to murmuring about the incident.

I’d give you dollars to donuts that the teacher would have never  accepted that kind of behavior from her own students.  Doctors make the worst patients; teachers make the worst students.week1week2week3week4week5week6





A Paperback Writer said...

You make good points; however, it seems to me that the best "refresher" course you're really getting here is "I must not ever make my classes so trivial and boring that my students feel the way these people are making me feel now."
That's how I felt about LIFE training.

Max said...

True, true. But, I'm assuming from knowing you for 9 years now, you made the choice not to get verbally hostile and visibly angry towards the presenters. As I've told students in my class, being bored does not give them the right to disrupt it for all the other people that might be interested in learning. (I know, I know. You find it incredibly hard to beleive that jr, high kids could get bored in a Math class, but sometimes they do).

The Gearheads said...

It intrigues me that the pictures you included with this post had NOTHING to do with the post.

Max said...

And it suprises you that I would do something that makes no sense at all? I just wanted to put them up on the blog, but didn't want to do a whole seperate post for them. Why? I dunno.