Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Day 10: Practice w/ U1 WS2

We began the class with a quick recap of the concepts we derived yesterday (notes). We then talked as a group about how to approach the bulk of the problems on the worksheet (I didn't explicitly work out any examples) and I left them to work. 

The big point I had to stress today was the idea of collaboration and asking other students for help. Most struggling students are convinced that me, the teacher, is the only person appropriate to ask for help. 

I've noticed that I have to approach each class with a slightly different tactic. My 2nd hour class is amazing and they don't really put up much of a fight, my 5th hour (the only "regular" class) needs a little more coaching; both emotionally and academically, and my 6th hour class is becoming very adversarial. I toyed with the idea of playing up that animosity and their hatred of the modeling approach / socratic questioning to act more like the Emperor "let the hate flow through you, feel it make you stronger, etc" but that's a dangerous game to play with 10th graders. 

Here's my thought for tomorrow (adapted from an experience I had in physics at the end of last year, my first as a modeler):

Me: "Why do hate my methods?"
Them: "Because you never give us the answer - you only ask more questions!"
Me: "Ok, the answer is 12 (for example). Why do you believe me?"
Them: "Because you're the teacher! Obviously you know the answers!"
Me: "Says who? Teachers can't be wrong? We don't make mistakes?"
Them: "Well, they might, but they're going to be right most of the time."
Me: "Ok fine, but where did *I* get the answers?"
Them: "You went to college right? Don't you have degrees in this stuff?"
Me: "Yep - I have a B.S.E. in Engineering Physics from UM (I'm not trying to brag online, just detailing what I'm going to say to them), a Certification of Teaching from EMU in secondary math & physics, and a M.S.T. in Teaching Astronomy. Are those degrees enough to earn your trust that I know the "right" answers?"
Them: "Well, duh."
Me: "Notice, TWO of those degrees are specialized in TEACHING. Do you trust me that I know the best way to TEACH you? To get you to LEARN?"
Them: "..." (I hope)

No joke, I had this conversation with one of my physics students last year. That last line stopped him dead in his tracks. The conversation stemmed from his comment that he "hated" (he was mostly kidding) my class because I made him think. That might be the greatest compliment I've ever gotten from a student. 

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