Math Lessons

Thank goodness for random Friday holidays. (Okay, so I hear it’s someone’s birthday weekend, but it’s not like anyone knows who, right? So. Random Friday holiday.)

Crazy events transpired this week: I started student teaching.

Let me backtrack to explain my student teaching, in contrast to almost everyone else’s student teaching. If you’re almost everyone else, when you go in for student teaching, you basically have to quit any day job you have to be assigned to any classroom in San Diego. You then work there for free, while gaining hands-on teaching experience. In the beginning, you have a master teacher who actually owns the class, who you watch for awhile, and slowly begin teaching lessons for as the months go by.

I was lucky enough to not have to quit my job, because my advisor already knew the charter school I work for, and it’s nontraditional setup, and was completely okay from the start with letting me do my student teaching there. Excellent! Didn’t have to quit my job, just had to work extra hours in the afternoon.

So we set up “classes” for me to teach. Normally, the school is 100% independent study. The kids go through one or two classes at a time, in the pace of about a month each (theoretically), and everyone’s on different classes, and at different parts of the classes at any one time. When I tutor in math, I’ve usually got a variety of kids from Algebra, Geometry, and my fave student who just so happens to be the only student at our site who’s in Intermediate Algebra. Some are in the beginning of these classes, some in the middle, some are reteaching lesson six ten times. The point is, they are never all on the same schedule. Until now.

Two classes. One room the size of our dining room. 30 students who don’t want to be there. (We’re working on that.)

The first few days weren’t bad, to be fair. Geometry so far, which consists of the students I’m most familiar with, since most of them are mine and Michelle’s students, is by far the more interesting and interactive. The younger kids in Algebra are quiet… which is good… but it’s also bad. I had to start them a day late though, and then we had to cancel their second class, due to last minute interview scheduling from our higher-ups (more on that later).

What I’ve learned so far:
It’s going to be a lot harder than I thought to get them in their seats each day. Our students are already notorious for missing their scheduled days, leaving early, and not showing up for weeks on end. Sheesh.

It’s really hard to gage how everyone is understanding. I look around the room and see one of four faces: 1) Nodding and clearly understanding, 2) Pretending to understand, 3) Looking confused, and 4)… well, I can’t see 4’s face, because he’s trying to fall asleep on the desk. Punk. The problem is, they mix and match these faces, so sometimes 3 is the one who’s actually getting it, and 1 just thinks they get it and then checks out.

Teaching is draining. When the Algebra kids scamper out at 4:15, all I can think is McDonald’s 99cent coke, and nap. One of the teachers pointed out the problem is that you are performing for hours on end. Ri-diculous. You’re trying to stay energized, you’re trying to energize them, you’re trying to keep them from talking to each other, you’re trying to stay positive when you call on a kid and they totally bomb the question, you’re trying to figure out a way to get kid 4 to get his face off the desk and participate. It’s tiring.

Positively, I think the kids are starting to dig the class. One of my more sullen students seemed to perk up around day two and has been the one volunteering to come to the board to solve problems. The one student I thought I’d have the biggest problem with (she’s pretty mouthy, and made it very known she did not want to be in the class) has actually been one of the best to have in the class, because she’s one of the few confident enough to spout out answers, even if they’re wrong. And one of my quietest kids has been doing great on her homework and has been giving answers out loud (albeit quietly so only I can hear) in class.

It’s a lot of hard work. I want so badly for all the kids to succeed, and although it’s only been a week so far, I might have to realize the hard fact that not all of my kids are going to try. And I really can’t do much past them not trying for themselves. It bums me out, though.

In other news! The higher ups found money in the budget to hire on five CAs to full time positions. Those of us nominated from our sites went in for interviews on Thursday afternoon (which is why I had to cancel the Algebra class that day). I’m a bit concerned that the powers that be will look over me since they’re already getting me and my extra 15 hours for free from student teaching, but I’m also the only one who interviewed from one of the largest sites in the South County, finishing up my math credential, and expressing interest in working at the school as a teacher, so I’m hoping those facts will overpower the desire to save some bucks.

0 thoughts on “Math Lessons

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      Yes, teaching is draining. It will kick your butt. You will get sick a lot. There will be days you want to walk out that door and never come back. You'll take stacks of papers home only to fall asleep on them and take them back the very next day.

      BUT.

      After you survive this portion and have a few seasons done it is definitely second nature and you realize you don't even have to think about so much. It might be sadistic to say that I'm glad you're saying this teaching craft is difficult — because that means you're being realistic. It's so easy for us all to start out being idealistic, but there's danger in that because we come down hard on ourselves when it doesn't work out perfectly.

      Press on! You can do it! And you're getting paid!

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