I’m finding myself extremely frustrated the past few days. While some good things have happened in my Algebra classes, and that is amazing and exciting, my geometry classes have continued to cause me to be fatigued and stressed. This is the first year I have found myself feeling like I’m just not connecting with the majority of these students.
Granted, it has been quite a year for geometry. This is our first year to change the curriculum to match the CCSS. We are a team of four teachers, three of us have taught geometry before, one has not. One of the teachers who has taught geometry has always gone his own way, and this year our school focus is PLC and, although they are not saying it, lockstep lessons. We are four very different teachers, and each of us has a different philosophy of teaching and how to engage and support students, and now we are attempting to write a geometry course based on transformational geometry without a text to support us. This is not a problem for me, I have always hated allowing a text to dictate my instruction, but two of the teachers count on a text, especially the one who hasn’t taught geometry.
I have been writing quite a bit of the curriculum, and I tend to favor inquiry based learning. The students this year have come from a PLC which spent the year creating flow sheets, note-takers, HW helpers, and step-by-step lessons which they continue to desire and seek. I, on the other hand, give very little up front information, and scaffold lessons to encourage inquiry and discovery. It has been a semester of power struggle, and for the most part, a large portion of these students have refused to buy in.
Now we are down to the wire, we have final exams next week before ending our semester and going on break. I have told the students that if they pass the final, they will pass the class, and we have spent the past week and a half reviewing the semester. I have encouraged students to re-write their notes, work together on problem solving and talking through topics, and even gave them a list of topics that could be on the final to direct their study, which is unusual for me. I am watching a large portion of these students waste time, refuse to spend the effort on anything related to geometry, and yet constantly asking me, “If I get a “C” on the final I get a “C” in the class?”, “Does this work for a “D” also?”
I am discouraged by how many students are spending their time working out how many problems they have to get right to get 54%, which is my low D-, I use a modified SBG at the moment, rather than at least trying to figure out how many they need to get right to get 68%, which is a C-. Or even just going through the topic list to see how much they really know or understand. I have asked, begged, pleaded, cajoled and been downright honest with them, and they continue to make the decision which I know will lead to failure.
One thing I am really tired of are the cell phones. I read this article “Frequent Cell Phone Use Linked to Anxiety, Lower Grades and Reduced Happiness in Students, Kent State Research Shows” and thought, DUH, I could have told you that. (BTW, this is the school both my parents attended, my father earned his BA in Physical Education and Master’s in Education here, my mother was Pre-Med, that was exciting). Our principal keeps saying how we are experiencing less issues with electronics and more excitement about learning and I’m wondering what classrooms his is visiting. He hasn’t been in mine all year, and my colleagues are reporting the same type of issues.
I guess, like Justin Aion, I’m struggling with what’s going on in my classes, how effective I am as a teacher this year, and the many many many changes that are occurring at our school site which are creating difficulties for me to focus on what needs to be done to engage my students, if that’s even possible this year, and to turn this thing around.
I really need a break. 😛