Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 25 2008

They were right about tracking.

Initially when I got my job at my new fancy private school I thought I would keep tracking and maybe even finally get it right. Then I realized that my kids were invested and did their work if I wrote it on a homework sheet and passed it out to them. In fact they’d do it even if I didn’t teach it well because they’d ask a smart friend, or read the book, or get a tutor or ask their engineer father for help.
So I kept putting off tracking thinking that everything was just fine and great and wonderful. My class averages on standards aligned assessments were high, the students were listening and doing their work and life seemed good.

First period I was upset with the whining students were doing about homework and Calculus being hard. I gave them the lecture I had planned in my brain about Calculus being hard and that nothing I could do would make it magically appear into their heads. One student asked if she could say something and I told her yes but that I didn’t want to have a discussion. She informed me that she actually thought the class was too easy and that we should be learning more but that I hadn’t actually taught them anything this year. She complained that I didn’t teach like any of her other teachers and that we were doing badly because I was doing badly. She prefaced these words ” I think you are a good teacher” but I don’t think she really meant that too much. I knew when she wrote on her survey at the beginning of the year that she prefers straightforward instruction that she wasn’t going to love my exploratory, proof based approach to math. Now I see that if I’d been tracking progress my students would know that they were learning and would have backed me up more instead of degenerating into slightly rude, not listening or participating in note-taking. I felt so bad after class. My self worth is really wrapped up in my classes and hearing that I’ve taught them nothing really does not make me feel good. I talked to my department chair and principal about the situation and I think they are supportive but I don’t know. I need some positive reinforcement for sure.

One Response

  1. laura

    cammie- I KNOW you have taught those kids math. In fact just because they don’t think it’s hard enough doesn’t mean that you aren’t doing a good job of teaching them. It means that you’ve done a better-than-expected job because they’re UNDERSTANDING. Which makes them think that it isn’t as hard as it is.

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Learning more about life than math…

Las Vegas Valley
High School

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