Saturday, March 26, 2016
Oy! As with every year, you wonder where the time has gone. This year has been quite different though because of Andrew dying at the start of the year, and then me muddling through the following 7 or so months, putting on my professional face, sometimes hitting the mark, sometimes phoning it in, most times somewhere in the middle.
I am so fortunate that at my school, the students roll with it and adjust and there aren't the extra added headaches of discipline and administration woes. I am also fortunate that I do enjoy my students. They are funny and caring and entertaining and a great distraction for when I need them to be.
I haven't had the energy or time to create many new activities. I have 6 preps and an over-addled mind, so I haven't been posting much. Yay Life!
But here are some things that I find successful this year.
Last summer, I went to many workshops, and in a few I was always so frustrated when I or someone else asked a question and then the presenter answered, but they didn't really answer the intended question. The situation also then went on that either the asker didn't pursue it or the presenter quickly went on to something else. This stuck with me, so that now, this year, every time a student asks a question, I answer it, and then I immediately follow up with, "did I answer your question?". I then gauge the situation. There are times when I didn't answer it as intended, so then that gives me a chance to try again.
The next thing I am loving is the increased use of peer editing/checking. I am using it in both CS classes and in DE and IED (the engineering classes). First of all, it lets students see how others are handling the problem. Second of all, it fixes the minor bugs so that when I grade something, it's more correct. My colleague and I did make an adjustment, though, with our freshmen IED class. We found that students were blindly signing off on something that may or may not have been correct. We added the extra incentive that if you sign off and it is not correct, 1% is taken of your grade. This seems to have an effect of more careful checking.
Third thing is that I am trying harder to actually talk non-math/school topics with the students more often than comes up when they initiate (which was my MO before). Now I will start a conversation with a student if they are sitting in my class hanging out or doing corrections or whatever. I have had some great talks with students just because of this initiative. I have learned some funny and sad and exciting things. It helps school feel more close knit to me.
I am curious what next year will bring and if my mind will be more in the game. I traveled solo to Barcelona this past spring break and it was all sorts of amazing and sad and exhilarating. I am going to PCMI this summer, so that should be exciting and recharging of my math brain. I have also bought a new smaller house and will be moving soon from the memory-laden house I lived in with my husband since June 2003. So this summer will be one for changes.