updates for 01.08.2012
Yesterday, I got felt up by an 8th grade boy. It was a definite, two-handed, all-out feel up. Now this was accidental of course, but it doesn't change the ridiculousness or embarrassment of the situation. Let me explain... My 5th period class is a math skills block full of "high flyers" who all happen to be friends with each other. On days when none of them happens to be suspended, absent, ditching or in ISS, it is a powderkeg of misbehavior. Yesterday one high flyer said something offensive to another, who then decided to stand up and jokingly approach the student as if to fight him. This happens a lot--they stand up and say "You wanna go??" and it seems like they're going to fight, but really they're all friends and they're kidding around. This doesn't make it acceptable however, so I approached the student, walking towards him down the aisle of desks. His friend (another frequent misbehaver) decided it was the optimal time to trip him, and he had no choice but to fall right into me, two hands straight out. He solidly grabbed both my breasts before rebounding, completely accidentally. In fact he didn't fully realize what he had done until he observed the reactions of myself and the other students. It was utterly mortifying and yet such a comically silly situation. I was very upset, especially because it wouldn't have happened if he hadn't been misbehaving in the first place (believe it or not students can't just get out of their seats in the middle of instruction and violently approach another student). I sent him outside so we could talk. He immediately began that it wasn't his fault, that so-and-so tripped him. I assured him that I understood, but reminded him that if he had stayed in his seat in the first place, this wouldn't have happened. Then he told me he felt too awkward to return to class (poor thing!). It didn't take him long to get over that and start messing around again, and I spent the rest of my class protectively covering my chest without realizing it. What a day. In other news, I took the PLACE test for physical education today. It's frustrating to me that as a licensed teacher with a ballet degree I can't just teach dance. Instead I need to pass the PE test, which I'm not sure I did. I'll see the results soon, and in the meantime I'm applying to charter schools that might be able to overlook my lack of a PE endorsement. I meant to update my blog numerous times since my last post--every day that ended up being positive. However I don't usually have time during the week, and good days are always followed by bad days, which makes it difficult for me to remember what made me so happy I wanted to blog. Sometimes, my students make me happy. Most days, they do not. I'm 75% of the way done with my TFA experience. Here's hoping I can make it to May!
I was just browsing through videos of teachers implementing the Common Core standards and found on one proportions that I thought was worth mentioning here. Some of the Calculus students I work with still struggle with proportions.
When I say struggle, I don't mean that they don't know how to cross multiply, but that they struggle to define what it means for two quantities to be proportional or identify a situation where two quantities are proportional.
In the video on proportions a teacher helps students review how to cross multiply by creating a game that they find engaging and fun. If you want, watch it and see what you think before reading on to see how I interpreted it.
...did you watch it?.....
What did you think? I believe this is a prime example of sending the message that math is not fun or interesting, so we need to spice it up by walking around the room. The problems the students were solving were boring, they liked the activity because they could walk around, race their friends and interact with peers.
I'm not saying that games are bad, and getting kids out of their seats is great, but sometimes I feel that teachers have to exploit kids desire to be social to get them to do really boring repetitive problems. Perhaps this teacher had a great conceptual lesson on proportions the day before and the kids are just practicing a procedure, but based on national test scores I'm going to guess that her students will probably end up like the majority of middle school students who can cross multiply but don't demonstrate proportional reasoning.
This video could have been useful to demonstrate games and activities, but it doesn't seem to me to have a place on the common core website as this teacher is not promoting the standards of mathematical practice as I interpreted them. The students are following a procedure without thinking about its meaning, interpreting it, applying it, etc. I don't see the math in the lesson. I see kids running around moving numbers around.
Tomorrow morning is the dawn of slam time, where I'm aiming to hash out a revised vision, long term plan, unit assessment, and unit test. Check back to see if that happens. Before that kick can get me running again, get me sprinting through the month, jogging to spring break, then singing and dancing to June, I need to clear my head of all this not-specifically-Dumas-personal-banter. My favorite Christmas present has turned out to be cousin Lucas driving down with me from Michigan to Arkansas. We arrived at 5am Friday morning; he flies back to Michigan this afternoon. Growing up, Luke was always my favorite cousin. He rappelled me down balconies, threw me into freezing Lake Michigan waves, and always let me ride on the back of his dirt bike. Yesterday he asked if I remembered rolling up in sleeping bags to slide down the stairs of the house I lived in until I was ten. The whole growing up thing set me pretty far away from any of my family, emotionally and geographically. Living in Arkansas might have been the breaking point I've needed for the past fifteen years. Since I was old enough to head out without hand holding I've been fairly independent. Didn't have a problem with family, but didn't attach any major value to it. At my grandparents' funerals I felt awkward, standing in a black dress, not crying, watching my mother and her sisters hold hands and sing songs with tears streaming down their faces. When I lost my own mom, though, I started to get it. Always hits that much too late, right? I can't even write out the cliches. Now, the year is ending. Lucas is the second family member from his immediate family that has made it to see my town. None from my own. When my sister (sorry, girl) told me she was bailing on our half-plans for the second time, I started crying in my classroom. The bail wasn't that unexpected. The crying definitely was. The past two and a half years, even through and aside from the chaos of teaching, moving, becoming an adult, have taught me a major lesson about family. I love the inbred excuse to be authentic. I love that my family is full of headstrong, genuine people that don't deny who they are. My grandpa (who reads this, Chuckles I love you) outright says we might not see him many more times; my dad isn't embarrassed about making coffee at 8pm, going to bed at 5am, and waking up later than me daily; the past two days showed me Lucas is a hopeless romantic I never saw coming. We watched two movies tonight: Darfur and The Future. Both were horrifically depressing but left me with this inappropriate gratification. Any worry I've been housing (over my next job, over relationships, over my ability to sort out my life and feel fulfilled) dissipated when I watched the trauma of other people. Genocide and adultery left me feeling like clay. Heavy and misshaped, waiting for tools, hands, weather to beat me into something new. I'm not scared, and I'm not as worried as my incessant elaborate explanations and weighting-of-the-options indicate. I'm perpetually surrounded by a huge undeniable family. I've set myself up to have the things I need. My back up plan has a back up plan. My life is full of things I love. I'll always have things to do and I'll never feel my own age, but right now I know things are going to be fine. If 2012 keeps up what it's been doing for the past six days, it's going to be a pretty good year.
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