Thursday, October 16, 2014

"No! Math is more important!

That was a quote I got from one of my students today when we were supposed to be watching the weekly edition of "The Bear Facts" (our student created television show). I was actually trying to watch it but my students were taking advantage of the extra few minutes of study time before their impending quiz.  So when the student asked me a "how do you" question, I jokingly said "can't you see I'm busy watching the Bear Facts?" And he, in turn responded with "no, math is more important!"  Someone pinch me now, because I think I'm hearing voices say math is more important!!

Even yesterday, I had two students articulate that my slogan should be "with Torres, Calculus is possible". (head shaking trying to rid itself of preposterous voices!) It has taken me 30, that's right, I said 30 years to reach this point where the students are genuinely excited to be learning in my room. Why couldn't this have happened sooner?  But I'm clinging to this year like I clutched the Heisman!

Don't misread this to say that everything is wonderful, because there are still things I need to work on (that pile of ungraded papers sitting next to this keyboard), and creating MORE or finding MORE activities that are tied to the lessons, and figuring out how to best assess students and make their grades even more meaningful to them.  SO MUCH to do and not even close to enough hours to complete it.  But, in the meantime, I love having students talking (excitedly) about math everyday in my classroom and working (so efficiently) together on their whiteboards.

I just wish someone had told me all this was possible sooner.  I've missed out on some great enjoyment with former students.

Now, with all that said, I still feel the struggle with Statistics.  I'm trying to tear away (actually I have) from the "old version" of me, but I just don't feel like I have hit any real stride with that class. Today I felt a little closer in that I had the students putting up answers/work on the whiteboards (something we haven't done as much in that class). I liked it but not sure if I "loved it". I just can't decide how to best arrange the necessary learning pieces. I have literally used the textbook so little, they might as well not have even checked it out, but I can't decide if what I'm doing is "great" or not.  I guess it just feels "okay" or "good" and I'm not satisfied with it yet.

It's just such a different beast and I cannot figure out how to best tame it. I felt this struggle last year too, but at least then I was using "the same old thing".  I think I'm my own worst critic and I know I'm really harsh in my assessment of my own work.  To quote my son (when he comes home with a 98 on a test: "not good enough!").  It's a dilemma that I know I will continue to wrestle with again this year as I keep trying new things in an effort to make it better. In the meantime I will be happy that I teach them a lot of useful statistics.  I've already gotten one thankful email this year (from a student last year) saying that a college class is so much easier because of my Stats class.

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