Getting Frustrated (Long, Sorry)

Discussion in 'General Education' started by MathTeacher29, Sep 17, 2007.

  1. MathTeacher29

    MathTeacher29 Rookie

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    Sep 17, 2007

    Hello, I just need to vent.

    This is my second year teaching high school math, and I’m only three weeks in and I can’t stand some of my classes. My first period is great, they barely talk and they do all their work. My second period does nothing but complain. It’s to cold, its to hot….more notes…..It’s a pre-geometry class for students who have struggled with math and half the class could care less because they will never have to take geometry. So they are ruining it for the other half. I’m trying to keep the pace of the class moving as fast as possible so they don’t have time to complain. But they are so lazy they won’t even copy my work down from the board and turn it in for an easy 100%. I try calling home, but the phones are out of order.

    Then there is my third period. I hate them, and I hate to say it. If I turn my back they steal stuff. Markers, notebooks, pencils, etc. They stick gum on my stuff. I try watching for gum but I don’t catch it. They are a VERY weak class, and it’s Algebra One, which in my school is broken into sections and you can’t pass from one to another till you have a 77 overall in the 6 weeks. So I have all these students who have been in this section 3 to 5 times, and they are so happy that they finally have a 65 and not a 30 they are happy with it. I try to motivate them that they can do better and get the 77, but they say I have a 65, that’s great! I’ve tried calling home but I can’t get anyone or numbers are out of order. I also have a few E.C. kids in the class, and trying to help them and guide them is draining me. There’s not enough of me to help everyone, and they can’t stay after for extra help. I go into that class miserable, and I know it shows and they feed off of it. They love it. I try to be cheerful and use positive reinforcement, but that hasn’t worked. I don’t know what else to do with them. And it makes me even madder with them because they take my stuff.

    I want to be happy and cheerful and have everyone do great, but they students are wearing me down already.
    Help!
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Sep 17, 2007

    I can't give you too much advice because I don't teach HS. But I'll say this..you have to find what these students like outside of school and use that to your advantage. They might think this class doesn't mean much, but they can't graduate without it!
     
  4. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    Sep 17, 2007

    These kids struggle with math, therefore they hate it.


    so, you have make them see the relevance in math. Maybe less copying for awhile... and some hands on type actual problem solving. I'm no expert.... but TeacherGroupie may show up and help:D

    Why not throw them a test- unannounced. They will look at you horrified, but at least they will know that they need to prepare because they don't know this stuff. :D
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Sep 17, 2007

    Moi? Um, when it comes to math Aliceacc is a better choice.

    Here's something to check out, though: http://jumpmath.org. This is the (new) Web site for John Mighton's JUMP Math (JUMP stands for Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies).

    What about having these kids tutor each other? or tutor kids in lower grades? Yes, I know that sounds counterintuitive - but there's nothing quite like teaching to make one learn, and there's something about having to be the authority that makes one figure out how to figure out. Perhaps you can get some more advanced kids in to model how it's done...?
     
  6. MathTeacher29

    MathTeacher29 Rookie

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    Sep 17, 2007

    I try to keep the note copying to less that a page. I also try to make outlines for the notes so they fill in the blanks, but the school put a limit on our copies and I'm using them up fast.

    A typical day for me is 10 minutes of bellwork, which I go over with them. During bellwork I check homework, just to make sure they tried the problems, not on accuracy. Then I give answers to the homework, and go over any problems/questions. That can be 30 minutes or more, depending. Then maybe a quiz, or new material, which I give any formulas and do at least two examples of every style, randomly calling on students as I teach. I then give examples to try on their own and I walk around and help and check on them.

    If time permits I give them problems to work on with a partner of their choosing so they can help each other. However this year they don’t want to work with a partner for some reason. I have to be careful about choosing partners for them because there are a lot of rivalries. The other teachers are so busy squeezing their material in they have no students that could help mine.
    I also have a pacing guide for the class that I must follow and I have to make sure I’m teaching the exact same material as the other teachers and using the same tests. It’s very structured.
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 17, 2007

    I'm in a Catholic HS, and all of our kids go on to college, so my situation is WAAAY different from yours. But here's what I think:

    For starters, no more turning your back on that 3rd period class. Do you have access to an overhead or a visualizer? Get one, somehow, and use it. That way you can face them while you teach, and you'll gain some control. That in and of itself will help things.

    Next, you've got to find some sort of a hook-- something that will make them care. Are any of them athletes? Is there a minimum passing grade they need to play? Talk to the coaches; they're a wonderful resource.

    Next, hit www.vistaprint.com and get some of their freebies ("THE FOLLOWING PRODUCTS ARE NOW AVAILABLE FOR FREE!
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    Note Cards 10 Reg. start at $7.99 NOW FREE "

    Order ONLY the freebies, and nothing after you checkout. (Let me know if you want me to forward you the email-- PM me with your email address.) Get as creative as you can. Use the free business cards to print up "Miss K thinks I'm a mathematical genius" cards with pictures of a lightbulb. or "Miss K thinks I'm a star" with pictures of the cosmos. Print up free fridge magnets with supportive sayings on them for their lockers. You get the idea... lots and lots of positive reinforcement. (Warning: you will pay for shipping and handling... this stuff isn't completely free." Once they arrive, give them out generously. If you do a particularly hard problem and several kids get it right (or a few complete the homework when many don't) give them out. I've also used the business cards as "get out of one night's homework free" passes.

    Reach them where they live. If they're content with 65's, that's OK for now. Get them to where they're used to passing, then raise the bar a bit... make those 65's a bit harder to get. But it sounds like a number of them are so used to failing that they're pretending not to care. Once they see some success-- or see their classmates succeed-- it may make a difference. Teacher groupie's idea of them tutoring younger kids helps here. Once someone else thinks you're smart, you tend to believe it yourself.

    For now I would skip the rest of the group work. For kids without a great work ethic, it's an excuse to sit back and let someone else do the work. Get them on track a bit academically, get them to care a bit, and then you can try the group stuff.

    edited to add: a friend just emailed me this math website. Do they have anything you can use? http://www.clcmn.edu/kschulte/mathworksheets.html
     
  8. MathTeacher29

    MathTeacher29 Rookie

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    Sep 18, 2007

    Thank you for all your responses.
    I do use an overhead, however it’s when I am busy taking care of another student they take advantage of me. I’m in a trailer, and while I’m on one end they will goof off on the other end.
    I only have a few athletes, and they are already my better students.
    I like the vistaprint idea, I’ve also bought stuff from smilemakers.com, they have lots of cute stuff. Today while they were working on their problems I handed out these mini erasers and fun stickers to the ones who were working hard, and after a few noticed that they wanted one, and I told them they had to show me how hard they were working and they got to work.
    The problem with tutoring younger kids is they’re pretty much the lowest level in the school.
    I have a grading question. I grade homework on effort by walking around and checking homework, because that’s the policy in my department, which I’m fine on because I don’t think it’s fair to grade on accuracy for something they just learned. Once a week I give them a packet that covers all topics learned, and I take that up and check every problem and point out their mistakes and tell them how good they’re doing on certain problems. But I still don’t take off if it’s wrong, only of they didn’t do the problem. I think it would be very discouraging to students to see how much effort they put into something and then get a 20%. The other teacher grades on accuracy and her kids are doing worse on tests and quizzes. What do you think?

    Also thank you for the website Aliceacc, it was very helpful.
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 18, 2007

    I think that at some point you have to test. But I don't give a grade on work they do outside of class (aside from one yearly project.) It's just too easy to cheat.

    So I think you have the right approach.

    Have the kids who need individual attention come up to you with their notebooks, instead of you going to them. That way you're still in a position to see what's going on.
     
  10. MathTeacher29

    MathTeacher29 Rookie

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    Sep 18, 2007

    To cut down on homework copying we have this great software at school, Kuta, http://www.kutasoftware.com/index.html. You can create a worksheet from the database and then make a couple different versions of it so each class has one with different problems. It also prints an answer key. It's an awesome program. There's a free trial download on the site. I don't know what math you teach Aliceacc.
     

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