Welcome to the Big Leagues

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So I am now student teaching with high school geometry students and it’s awesome! I’m loving that I get to teach the very subject that interested me in becoming a math teacher. I’ve had two observations thus far (one with my field coordinator and one with my content coordinator) and this post will serve as a reflection to the one with my content coordinator. It’s a little past due, but I find time for anything other than geometry to be few and far between nowadays, so here we go.

I had asked my coordinator to help me focus on how well I relayed the overall big picture of geometry to my students, as well as how engaged they were throughout the lesson. I want math to be taught to these students differently than it was taught to me. Rather than learning about each chapter or concept in the book as a separate idea, I really want them to understand how they all connect. Math isn’t meant to be studied in a detached manner, because it builds off of itself and relies on so many different components. We’ve been trying to ask them the “why” behind each thing we do in class. It’s so crucial that they critically think about each concept in geometry so that they’re able to apply what they know to all different situations. That is what I was aiming to teach and help them realize, not only in this lesson, but in every lesson. After discussing with my professor, I realized I could have done more to promote this idea of connectedness, but at the same time, we were using concepts and tools from the previous couple of lessons in order to accomplish the objectives and goals for the day. That being said, I think next time I could pause to have group discussions about what it is we are using/doing and how it relates to what we have done in the past.

As for the engagement piece, my coordinator was able to keep some data so that I could see where and when I need to refocus my energy to engage my students. In the beginning of the hour, the focus was fairly high, but as they began finishing the first activity (a parallel and perpendicular memory matching game) at various times, the first ones done became easily disengaged. I started to lose a few, so I tried to refocus their efforts on the next worksheet, which had an application to the parallel and perpendicular lines we had been learning about for the past day or two. It was a little challenging and I could tell that some students were going to need major motivation so that they wouldn’t simply give up. At some points, I felt like there wasn’t enough of me to go around and the data showed that these were the times that my students had a difficult time staying engaged. With them finishing at all different times, I was unsure of how to keep them all focused and on task. When I asked my coordinator for some recommendations, he talked about a strategy of “split-group-split-group.” That is, walk around and monitor/respond to questions from individuals or groups and then take time to come together as a group, especially when the same question continually pops up. This way I can ensure that everyone is on the same page and we’re all able to move forward together. I’ve actually had a chance to try this strategy since then and it’s been great!

I look forward to employing this tactic more often and trying more engaging and exciting math activities! It’s still my goal to show students that math is more than just memorizing steps and procedures–it’s making connections and applying what we know to figure out what we don’t.