I don't understand why my student's

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by GTB4GT, Sep 29, 2011.

  1. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Sep 29, 2011

    don't understand. Retired engineer and new teacher. Of course as the new teacher i get the classes and student's that the others didn't want. I get that and am ok with that as that is how the world works. I thought that I could teach math as a good part of my previous career was spent not only involved in mathematics but training others to run, maintain and operate industrial machinery. I was good at that. In my new position I am schocked with the (lack of) math comprehension in my children. two questions - how do you experienced teachers decide it it's you or them? Are some people simply incapable of grasping math? Is there research that supports this. BTW, I am about 1/4 of the suggested pacing of my textbookso I know it' not moving too quickly. I have tried to "reach the kids where they are". I pray for patience and humility daily but I truly am dumbfounded with these children. Any thoughts? ideas? suggestions?
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 30, 2011

    I think that training adults is a whole different ballgame than teaching kids.

    I don't believe that the vast majority of kids in schools are unable to grasp math. I do think there's an art to finding the explanations that will click with a group of kids. (Also, as an aside, I don't believe that new teachers routinely get the bad kids. I know it's a common perception this year on these boards. I think the computer spits out kids and they get who they get.)

    What courses are you teaching? What topics?

    Where are the other teachers in your department? Can you observe their classes? Ask them to observe yours and offer tips?

    Honestly, as an experienced teacher and former department chair, I'm concerned that you're only 1/4 of where you "should" be this early in the year. Of course, I know that pacing guides are fluid things. But I'm concerned that you may have trouble catching up. And know that your kids NEED and DESERVE to learn all the material they are expected to know. To cover 1/4 of a course simply sets them up for failure down the road.

    Of course, reconciling where they are and where they need to be is a problem.

    Have you spoken to your department chair? Your assistant principal?

    I urge you, do so today. Let them know you're having difficulty. See how they can help.
     
  4. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Catching up??


    I certainly appreciate the feedback. My main worry is a geometry class (I teach other courses as well). I am given the kids who require two periods for this class instead of the usual one period. Their math scores in their records indicate low proficiency historically and project low scores in the future . This class was structured and designed this way rather than a randomly generated list of students and I was told beforehand this was going to be my assignment. Let's say the other teacher's are quite familiar with all my students. So in this case the reality is more than a "perception" developed after two months.

    The reason we are behind is there has been well over 50% of the teaching time devoted to basic math and algebra 1 topics. We even spent 1 2-period session on operations with negative numbers. They can improve in any one area but can't seem to integrate it when we try to move on. So am not really teaching geometry I am teaching a general math course in a sense.My other option is to stay on task, present the geometry in a way that they could manage (if I skipped the algebra/negative numbers their scores would improve as they generally grasp the idea that two little segments add up to the length of the big one and other principals of geometry) My other courses are at or ahead of schedule so I am not concerned with my abilities in planning/classroom management (for the record, most of my career was spent in management so planning and dealing with behavioral issues isn't difficult for me).I really believe (and the data supports) that these children are several years behind where they should be mathematically for there grade level.
     
  5. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Sep 30, 2011

    Is geometry required for graduation or necessary to pass some type of test required for graduation?
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    OK, here are my suggestions:

    a. Negative numbers aren't a big issue in geometry. So keep moving.

    b. Include some drill on basic operations every single day-- make it your Do Now. Spend no more than 5 minutes per class, but do it consistently. Make sure the kids know that 10% of every test will be problems like those on the drill-- and that those should be considered "Free points"-- they're predictable, they're attainable.

    I incorporate algebra into a LOT Of my classwork-- on Tuesday's test they'll find a system of equations problem involving supplements and vertical angles. But that's something you can build in gradually, as their skills improve.

    c. Geometry is incredibly visual. Make sure the kids work to make their diagrams as accurate as possible. A kid who draws an isosceles triangle correctly is more likely to realize that the base angles are congruent than one who doesn't.

    Tuesday we went over the theorem that says that the segment joining the midpoints of 2 sides of a triangle is half the length of the 3rd side. I had a number of kids absent on retreat. I did a problem yesterday, and asked one of the absent kids to take a guess--and of course she guessed correctly. So you may find that some kids who flounder in algebra have the eye to see those connections that exist in geometry.

    Get an SAT review book and pull some of the questions from it. The geometry questions frequently contain diagrams, and they're always drawn to scale. Show the kids how the much information is given in the diagram.

    d. What's your school policy on calculator use? If some of these kids have learning disabilities or other issues, calculator use may be the key to getting past the basics. (Disclaimer, because you don't know me: I HATE the idea of calculators in schools. My kids don't use one until they see Trig and NEED one. But I don't teach kids with disabilities; those kids are the best example I can think of for allowing calculators in schools.)

    Does that help at all??

    Oops.. gotta run. Have a good day!
     

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