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Q&A #2477


Math Education

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From: Marielouise (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Nov 05, 1999 at 21:03:52
Subject: Re: Math Education

I taught high school mathematics for 2 years in New York State and 23 years
in Indiana. This was over a period of 40 years.  I have loved teaching high
school students.  One of the reasons is that I believed that each year I
continued to learn more mathematics, had more insights, and was rarely bored
with what I was doing.   Don't think that teaching is a bed of roses.  You
spend your days with the kids and your evenings with your papers and plan
books. It is however a labor of love.

When you become a teacher decide that you will always be a learner.  Go to
workshops, read materials, talk to other teachers.  Be current.  Question
what you do.

I always believed that the students and I were on an adventure together.
Therefore I always told them the itinerery at the very beginning.  As the
years progressed and I had most of the courses in my head I was able to give
to the students on the first day  a month's plan or an entire quarter's plan
I made a pact with the students that I would never add to the amount of work
determined.  I would delete and make substitutions when appropriate.  Test
days and project due dates were very sacred.  They would only be 'exchanged'
with another day with the agreement of the majority.  What this does is keep
both you as the 'circus ring master' and the students working together.  What
wasn't finished today, we did tomorrow as well as tomorrow's work.  If we
were fortunate to get ahead of ourselves we had time to explore, play games,
do something we hadn't planned that was enjoyable.  I also planned catch-up
days when I realized that the material was usually difficult or tedious.
Study days before tests were included.  Tests frequently came after we were
already two or three days into new material.  This allowed students who were
absent to catch up and take tests on time.   As a beginning teacher it takes
time and experience to get to this level.  However, planning and giving the
students a chapter at a time should be possible.  Before you start something
decide what is absolutely important.  This cannot be deleted.  Not every
section of every chapter in a textbook is necessary.  Not every section is
weighted the same either.  Condense some things so that you can give time to
the important things.  Ask experienced teachers to help you determine what is
the most important for each course.

Another technique is that as "ring master" I should not be the person taking
attendance, handing out papers, materials, answering the door.  Every class
section had a "secretary" who answers the door, marks the attendance (I would
check it sometime during the period when students are working), takes care of
notes, etc.  We also had a "mail service" that emptied the OUT box at the
beginning of the class and collected things for the IN box during the class.
This ideas are organizational or management.

I believe strongly in group work:  it can be checking homework, doing
classwork, taking group quizzes, exploring with a calculator.  Dependent upon
the level of the class each group would be two to four members.  As teacher
you only have to deal with a group, not individuals.  Your work load is
shortened.  Students can help other students.  Tests were always given as
singletons.

I didn't always collect homework but when I did I scrutinized it.  You can
give homework quizzes:  only homework on desk, no texts, and have students
copy one or two questions.  Another technique is to have a detailed
assignment handed in, for example, the chapter test in the text.  As teacher
decide which 3 or 4 questions you will grade.  Grade only those 3 or 4
questions.  Student know that they have to do ALL of the questions because
you do not tell them which ones you will choose to grade.  This works well.

Try to be fair at all times.  Do not punish the class for misbehavior of a
few.  Sometimes, even be merciful.  Enjoy your teaching.

-Marielouise, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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