It is unfortunately kind of difficult for me to think of this semester having any element of success sometimes. This has probably been the hardest I have ever worked. I have four new preps in a new school. I did not connect very well with the kids in the first week and I blame that on the fact that I tried to do math games on the first day. The students were not ready for that and many immediately rebelled. I have taught high school summer school geometry before, so I thought I was prepared for high school teaching but many students did not appreciate my teaching style. And I don’t think my teaching style is radical in any way – I just don’t lecture very often and I don’t give them homework in the traditional way (meaning I give them up to 10 problems per night and only check it sometimes where they are used to being assigned 40 problems and having time to complete it in class). I was really beaten down in the first few weeks and it was hard to see the positives.
I did some activities that really backfired but I also did some activities that were great (and hopefully will blog about them soon). I was able to do Barbie Bungee in two classes and I believe those were successful even though I feel like they took longer than they should have. I was able to do an Absolute Value project in one class that many students cited as being helpful to their learning, even though when I assigned it less than half turned it in on time after 2 hours of class time on it. I was able to do some fun review activities, and even showed the staff one of them (I will blog about Quizizz soon) but still felt like those could have all gone better.
But, I guess it’s all worth it in the end. I gave my finals and the averages were fine. So that was one success that I was worried about. I also gave a semester reflection survey to the students. One question was “What can I do to help you learn better next semester?” My main responses were to let them do homework in class, less group work, and check all the homework/give more points, but I did get one response that really made me feel like I actually had a successful semester:
Honestly, to me, you shouldn’t change anything. I know some people don’t like your teaching style, but I love it and it has helped me so much. I’ve struggled with math my whole life and I never truly understood it until I got you as a teacher. So thank you so much for doing what you do and know I appreciate you so much!
This is a student who got a D on her first quiz, but in the end earned a 95% on her final exam and a 92% in the class. I feel like her comment really sums up how I’ve felt and also what I wanted to do. I knew I would be a different teacher than what they’ve experienced before, but I hoped to help my students see that they can all be successful in math. And, according to one of them anyway, I did.
Merci, étudiante, pour me montrer que j’ai réussi un peu ce semestre.