Okay, let’s be clear.
I *DO* teach. A lot.
But students don’t often know how to articulate that *how* I’m trying to teach may differ, at times, from some of their past math-class experiences.
They might not know exactly how to say,
“You teach by having us discover stuff on our own before you just tell us a formula.”
“You teach by having us talk to one another and work to be ‘patient problem solvers’ rather than just telling us what to do next.”
“You teach by answering our questions with other questions designed to make us think, or to encourage us to test stuff to see if our theory works or falls apart. You don’t own all of the knowledge in this room, and you want us to own it, and not be afraid to make mistakes along the way… because that’s how learning happens.”
“You teach by discouraging memorization and ‘tricks’ that really have nothing to do with understanding math, even though I really… REALLY want you to tell me tricks. Deep down, I’m a young learner who just wants you to tell me something that will work, all the time, for every problem.”
“You don’t teach” actually means, “Teacher, you’re doing a great job of being ‘less helpful’. I’m frustrated, but when I put the pieces together and form my own meaning from all of this, I’ll really, REALLY understand it. And I may even thank you for it… but probably not this year.”
I was a bit down in the dumps last week after some student comments like this, accompanied by some test grades that were less-than-desirable. I take it to heart when my students don’t succeed. But I have to remember that they’re still working on it. They’re not there (here comes that ever-important word) YET.
New TEKS (Texas standards), new books, higher expectations… growing pains are inevitable.
But we’ll get there, even if we’re not there… yet.
Thanks to the #MTBoS and particularly my pal Kyle Pearce for encouragement and empowerment to keep pressing on… because I’m not done… yet. We’re just getting started, and we’ll get there!
A timely post from Kyle can be found here:
— Kyle Pearce (@MathletePearce) October 3, 2015