“Math is not funny!”

Another posting of an observation summary I wrote over the summer while starting my teacher education program.

Observations Summary #1

My three observations of other classrooms have exposed me to several learning opportunities that reinforce discussions we have had in C&I classes as well as items from the readings.  They span pedagogy to curricula to behavior to learning strategies.

The pedagogical approach used by our master teacher was initially challenging for our students.  They mostly seem to be familiar with a “skill & drill” approach or direct instruction or similar – all under the individual work umbrella.  Most have transitioned well a group work environment and are experiencing the benefits it offers.

One student, in particular, is struggling with the pedagogy and curricula as well as behavior and learning strategies.  This student is very bright, confident in himself (to a fault), and overly assertive.  I am not sure if there is some deep rooted need to act in this specific way to allow him to manage some fears or if he simply is more comfortable performing math in certain ways.  Nonetheless, he is making instruction more challenging, disturbing group progress somewhat and blatantly questioning the curricula and content.  His questioning is surprising, especially his calling the content “below his level” since his skill level was in the 50th percentile score-wise on the pre-test.

An additional observation I made today, outside of my master teacher’s class, but within another math teacher’s class was quite surprising.   This particular teacher seems to run the class with an iron fist, squelching any behavioral issues immediately, however, creating an almost sterile environment devoid of creative thought or discourse.  The teacher even went so far as to state “Math is not funny!” loudly to suppress some students from giggling.  I was stunned by her statement and classroom management methodology.  I was impressed with the posters in her room however as they encouraged safety, respect and responsibility as well as offered a variety of “discussion phrases,” “ask myself questions” and “partner/class talk” suggestions to help students when wrestling with a challenging situation.

I have truly enjoyed this first week in [our teaching program], especially in my placement.  It offers a phenomenal environment to observe, participate, reflect and repeat frequently ever day – all with the intent of helping me see as many diverse environments, pedagogies, students, teachers, curricula and situations as possible.  I look forward to the upcoming week.

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About Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher

Secondary math teacher teaching math intervention, algebra 1, honors precalculus, and AP Calculus AB. I spent 25 years in high tech in engineering, marketing, sales and business development roles in the satellite communications, GPS, semiconductor, and wireless industries. I am awed by the potential in our nation's youth and I hope to instill in them the passion to improve our world at local, state, national, and global levels.
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