Feb 11, 2009

A Repost from the Beginning

It's been 19 months since I first stood in front of a classroom as a teacher. What follows is an old post from my own personal blog recounting thoughts & reflections of that very first session:

It still feels surreal to hear and see the name 'Mr. G-----' come from students and the white board. In fact, when I first introduced myself to the students on Monday, I wasn't sure if I should say my name was 'Ian' or 'Mr. G-----' so I just decided to go with 'Ian G-----'. Today, during my first real talk in front of the class... I told them they could just call me 'Mr. G' to keep it comfortable and also b/c my last name is pretty damn hard to say.

Anyway, I taught a 2 hour period of geometry today to 11th and 12th graders, many of whom failed the class in the past. I think I surprised myself a bit, surprised myself with the ability in my own self... to keep a classroom engaged for spurts at a time. Overall I think I generally did good, but there were definitely moments I could look back at and think... I could've done better there.

For example, I was going over a HW problem in the class. "Do you guys want me to go over a tougher one?" I asked. A collective "yeaaah!" came my way. I started doing out problem number 8 with really good confidence... a confidence quickly replaced by a "holy shit, I don't think I know how to do this." When my fellow fellow failed to bail me out on the board, I knew it was done. "Why the hell you givin' us problems if you can't even do em yourself!??" Damn. They're right. As a teacher, you gotta be as flawless as possible with this stuff.

From now on, I'm doing every HW I assign before handing it out.

Coming into today, I knew my main challenge would be learning the art of classroom management. And, yes, that's still a big one. I still have much much much to learn. I dream of the day I can teach an entire lesson without having to deal with student misbehavior and disruptions. But, I think the flow of the lesson went well overall.

One unforeseen challenge I see now is addressing the question: "how do you keep EVERY STUDENT engaged the ENTIRE TIME? And, how do you check (how do you know!?) if EVERY STUDENT is engaged the ENTIRE TIME?" I saw this a lot today, as I went over the 3 new triangle similarity conjectures. It felt like a lil more than half the class was really understanding: takin' notes, nodding their heads, participating. The rest of them seemed to just stare blankly at me and the board. And I'd do things like call on them, or ask the entire class to say/do something. They'd definitely do it, but that didn't tell me they were engaged and getting it. This is definitely a new challenge I've gotta work on.

Let's end w/ something happy. It felt really really good to see some of these kids get what I was saying. It felt really really good to walk around during independent learning time and see kids already on problem 5 (of 8) when, in the previous couple days of class, it felt like I was helping virtually every kid on the HW.

Day one done... now for the rest of my teaching life.

Less than 4 months til the completion of year two... growin' up.

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