Thursday, April 18, 2013

Reflection 75% of the way through

I'm certainly noticing a subconscious shift in my teaching style in this unit, which is most likely the result of a lot of influencing factors. Essentially, I'm seeing that I'm implementing less and less of my vision, which was to incorporate the modeling method and student discovery based learning into geometry. I've slowly morphed into a 'traditional' teacher with instruction that looks more like a lecture than anything else. I tell myself that it could be worse - the curriculum materials that i was given when I started teaching here 5 years ago were very basic fill-in-the-blank notes, low level homework quizzes, and multiple choice tests. I can say with confidence that what I'm doing now is light years beyond where I was. 

Some possible reasons why this is happening:

  • After 8 months, I grew tired of beating my head against the wall, trying to force a paradigm shift on unwilling participants. Path of least resistance and all. (FWIW, I hate feeling like this, but I can't deny reality)
  • The content in this unit (circles) is a mile wide and an inch deep. And what stinks is that it doesn't even offer itself to adaptation. As in, it would be hard to go narrow and deep because of how interconnected everything is. Plus, the ACT loves circle questions, so I feel obligated to show 10th graders everything they might see next year on the most important test of their lives (I hate saying that, too). 
  • These students (either 10th graders in general, or possibly just 10th graders in my school) are simply not mature enough to handle a modeling approach. MAYBE, if the whole school shifted gears and the philosophy was being reinforced by every teacher a student saw, but when you're the lone wolf, students feel justified in resisting change. "If I can just get through this class, I can get back to a teacher who'll just tell me the answers and I can memorize how to get them." 
Looking forward to next year and I am absolutely going to continue with this curriculum that I have spent all year developing. I might try the modeling approach with whiteboards & group discussion with the hopes that the class of 2015 was an anomaly (something that's actually talked about openly in the school). 

I will certainly NOT go back to the teacher led, "sage on the stage" method. I hate it. In terms of grades, I'm not seeing any significant difference between that method and my method, so there's no real reason to switch back, other than getting tired of listening to students complain. And let's be honest, if I allowed student complaints to effect me, I wouldn't have lasted this long in this job. 

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