Science & Math Teachers (Others Welcome)

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Math, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. Math

    Math Cohort

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    I think something like this mainly applies to Math and Science teachers. So the teacher assigned homework and one of the problems that was assigned no student could figure it out. So, of course the entire class was asking how to do the certain problem. The teacher attempted it and could not get the answer either. I want to be a Math teacher and would not want this happening to me. I remember in my other thread it was stated that when you become a teacher you have this greater intelligence basically. Which should make the high school material more logical in a sense and easier. The teacher said that he/she tried it earlier and still could not get it and a student was trying to help him/her and obviously could not get it. In my class period the teacher just decided to stop and basically say, "Well, I don't like this problem. I won't give you anything like this on the test. I am stumped though." Has this happened to you or someone you know or heard about?
     
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  3. Math

    Math Cohort

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    I also remember a teacher on these forums saying, "The teacher should be able to solve every single problem in the textbook, if not there is a problem." Is this true?
     
  4. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Some textbooks are poorly edited and have unsolvable problems.
     
  5. Math

    Math Cohort

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    Do you think teachers should review the work before assigning it? You know basically to avoid something like this?
     
  6. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    This is so true! I wish I would get paid by the mistakes made by textbook companies. As a teacher, I really try to catch them right away, but I have missed at least one. I do give my students a chance to debate any answer they have wrong that they think is right. I think if your teacher is dedicated to being fair that is better than if he/she is able to catch all the textbooks' mistakes.
     
  7. RadiantBerg

    RadiantBerg Cohort

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    Yes.

    I usually look over the problems I am assigning for homework---I don't just pick random numbers.

    That said, occasionally a problem gets more complicated than I intend so sometimes I'll tell the students it's okay if they didn't get that one.
     
  8. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Yes, but it can be easy to miss sometimes. I once sent home a sheet with an example problem on it... only to realize about two minutes after the final bus was called that the example problem was done completely wrong. A frantic email to parents later, and only five kids out of 26 came in the next day screwed up over it.
     
  9. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    When giving complex problems, I usually create a teaching key for myself so that I can easily teach step by step through problems. But just today my prep work failed me. I had assigned a challenging negative exponent division problem that just didn't work when I demonstrated it (I had the answer and the steps jotted down). But, it just didn't come together and I couldn't see why ... As I was taking role, my mind relaxed I realized that I left off a tiny little negative when I rewrote the problem.

    Sometimes teaching involves thinking of 5 other things while also doing math - which is why I do try to work out complex problems before teaching them - but sometimes my brain just gets stuck!
     
  10. Math

    Math Cohort

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    Okay so in other words... we are human. :)
     
  11. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    I agree with this for the most part. Occasionally, when I tutor, especially other kids in classes that I do not teach, I may get stumped temporarily. however I will, with that student, review and research the problem either in the textbook or on line until we solve the problem. I think modeling how to persist in doing problems is critical, along with making them aware of the resources available to them outside of the classroom. too often the kids (in my school) will hit an obstacle when doing their work and just stop. and I also they think that because we are math teachers then every problem is "easy" for us. It's good for them to see that we, in fact, are not blessed with supernatural gifts.


    I do agree with the issue above about textbooks and the power points that come with them. And I (being human) do occasionally make a math error myself on the board. The students enjoy catching me do that! But by and large I believe a teacher should be able to solve the problems in the book, especially if they are assigned. To do otherwise is expecting more from the students than from one's self.
     
  12. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Mistakes can happen. As someone else said, textbooks are notorious for having mistakes even in their problems. Sometimes they are unsolvable.

    One way to eliminate this happening is to do all problems that will be assigned to the students. That way you have a key which contains all of the steps you want to see. It also helps when you have students that were out sick or at an appointment.

    Why the teacher kept at it and spent so much time on it, I'm not sure. You aren't clear as to what was going on in the problem to make it unsolvable. For a teacher that knows subject matter well, it shouldn't take long to see where the breakdown happened. A simple example would be a problem in Algebra that the book key says should be factorable, but it obviously isn't.
     
  13. ajr

    ajr Rookie

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    If you, as the teacher, cannot solve a problem - that's a fantastic thing, not a bad thing.

    One of the most important things to help someone struggling in math understand is learning to learn math, and people have to be shown that's possible, just like anything else. Struggling students are almost never shown that it is possible to learn math other than having a list of rules dictated to you. If people are never exposed to the thought process of a mathematician, how are they supposed to learn to think like one?

    The students should know that going in. Being told "you are being graded on your ability to solve this," and being handed impossible or far too difficult problems destroys motivation and curiosity. If you are going to grade on correctness rather than effort or some other heuristic, curate the list - do the problems yourself first.

    Students are exposed to the idea of a mathematician (which most math teachers are unequivocally not - a first lie) as someone who has the answer immediately. Nothing is farther from the truth, as the business of mathematics is the discovery of new facts. By definition, that's someone who had to sit down and figure things out that weren't known before. This is not how it's presented - mathematics is given as someone with knowledge, passing it on to someone who is yet ignorant. The goal, presumably, being able to solve a series of formulaic, canned problems. These ideas are fundamental lies, but they protect the idea of authority.

    As a result, most students never see someone approach a new problem they are genuinely unsure how to solve. The model becomes "if I don't know, I'll wait until I can ask someone." They don't get exposed to what someone looking the information up does. Beyond having no modelling of what an expert struggling looks like, most have zero modelling of how to do even information lookup effectively. Most people can't read a math textbook and learn anything, and that is a troubling sign, because it means the information in it is entirely inaccessible to them. This is a failure of curriculum and pedagogical priorities, not of the individual.

    One of the core things I do to help someone struggling in math is to bring reference material, and only get a vague idea of what they're going to ask. I do not look anything up beforehand, because I want the person struggling to see me struggle and see how I overcome it. If I come to a session, full to the brim with a bunch of answers to their questions, they're never going to learn to answer their own questions using their own strengths and insight.

    I don't ever want to see them again, but only because they've learned how to finds answers to their own questions under their own power and direction - and do not need my help anymore.
     
  14. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I would offer extra credit to the student who could come up with the solution and share it with the rest of the class. I had a moment where I was stumped on a problem in front of the class, and it was partially my fault because I hadn't reviewed it before I started to go over it, and it was partially the pressure of having everyone in the class watch me do a problem. After things cooled down I was able to solve it and review the problem with the class again.

    I agree with ajr, but I think giving up on the problem as your teacher did shows bad precedent. At the very least, at your level which I am assuming is high-level math, someone can prove that it is unsolvable.
     
  15. Math

    Math Cohort

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    I would have looked it up in class. I know there are calculators that show steps online. I would have then justified what I was doing incorrectly. I think that would have made more sense.
     
  16. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I think what the teacher did was right. Stuff like this is going to happen no matter how much you prepare. Just roll with it, apologize and move on :)
     
  17. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    This probably wasn't the most ideal way to phrase this, IMHO.
     
  18. Math

    Math Cohort

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    Okay and just to clarify: I am not bashing my teacher in anyway. I just wanted to know your thoughts.
     
  19. mr_post22

    mr_post22 Companion

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    This is why I make my own homework assignments so I don't have issues like that
     
  20. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I would use it as a teachable moment. Something like:

    "When I get stuck on a problem, I know it's a good idea to put it away for a while, then come back and try it again. I even like to get a new sheet of paper out and start completely over, to make sure I didn't miss anything. Let's put this away for a while, and we'll come back at the end of class. For now, skip it, but if anyone has any ideas about how better to handle this problem, hang on to that idea until the end of class."
     
  21. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I also like what the poster above said about mathematicians always having the answers-not true. Good mathematicians have the tools to find the answer.
     
  22. joeschmoe

    joeschmoe Companion

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    I'm a 1st year teacher and there certainly ARE problems that i assign my students that take me awhile to solve. It's embarrassing, but it shows you're human to your students. Really, the premise that teachers know all is flawed. Do you really want your students to feel like there is a certain point you can reach where you know everything? For one, it's not true. And secondly, we're supposed to teach them to be lifelong learners.
     
  23. Math

    Math Cohort

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    Thank you for contributing... and thank you everyone else. I love your honesty!
     

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