Had a great moment the other day and I wanted to get it down for my weekly post. I was in Math 3, having students talk about some trig concept or another–I think it was about why the coordinates for sine and cosine are switched at 30 and 60 degrees on the unit circle–and kids were struggling to explain their thinking. About four students explained why they thought this happened and then ended with “does that make sense?” Which, of course, I refused to answer. Instead I put the question back on the kids. What do you think? Does it make sense? One responded with, “it makes sense to me, but I don’t know if what I’m saying makes sense to anyone else.” Another chimed in saying, “This [explaining your thinking] is hard!”
I jumped on that one!
“Yes,” I said, “explaining your thinking is really hard. And that’s why we practice it.” I went on for a bit about building neural pathways in your brain and about how this feeling of not knowing exactly how to say something felt uncomfortable, but that just meant that they were learning new things. “It’s hard,” I concluded, “so what are we going to do?”
“Practice it!” the class responded.
I had some great moments with colleagues this week. Like, really awesome moments. I haven’t had this kind of collaborative partnership with other adults around something not involving baby-stuff for over half a year now, so it feels really good.
I had a colleague who has been notoriously difficult to work with reach out and ask me for advice on a quasi-personal, quasi-professional topic. I felt respected by this person in a way that hasn’t been obviously apparent previously. I also brought up a challenging issue with this person, basically seeking out a potentially difficult conversation and it went well. Double yay!
Another colleague and I worked together to develop a set of reading questions for students to ensure that they grappled on a deeper level with a text about radians. I felt like the questions I wrote were meaningful and allowed students to access ideas in the text at a level they haven’t in previous years. Discussion was rich and students asked really good questions.
I tried a new activity and felt like the directions could be a bit confusing for students…so I made some visual instructions and threw them up on google slides. I think I blew at least one student’s mind when I mentioned the z-axis.
Another teacher stopped by to leave me a note regarding one of his advisees, who is my student. After class was over he talked with me about the part of the lesson he’d seen whilst he was writing his note and was super complimentary on my use of technology to record class notes about a discussion of the task. It felt really good to hear someone say nice things about what I was doing.
Both my department chair and my dean of students observed me on the same day (not the same section, but the same class)! They didn’t realize that they had done this, and they were both apologetic about it once they did know. But I responded with enthusiasm–hey! now I get two different perspectives on the same lesson, awesome! Lack of feedback on my teaching has been one of my criticisms of my school in the past, so I’m totally willing to go a bit too far in the opposite direction before things get totally dialed in. Yay, observations!
My kiddo had her first fever this week. 😦
But she got better really quickly and is back to her energetic, delighting-in-the-world self now.
And it’s the weekend.