The last time I wrote about my classes is over two weeks ago. I'm discouraged. (I'm up in the middle of the night because I couldn't sleep. Is my restlessness due to my concerns about my teaching?)
The most embarrassing part to report is that I still have one class that's definitely not with me. Most of the high school students are definitely not engaged. [There is a high school housed at our college. I have 13 high school students in this section. In the section that's going well, I have 5 high school students.] I've also had continued trouble with a bunch of the students who are on the women's basketball team. I can blame students who come in not caring about learning, or I can blame myself for not pulling people in. Of course blame gets one nowhere. But that class is distressing for me.
There's more. The hardest part to write about is my questions about how to handle students who continue to disrespect the needs of other students. I've mentioned my trouble to the high school principal and the basketball coach, and I've sent a few students to the dean of students. I don't like having power over students in the first place, and yet I'm using others to do what I'm not comfortable doing? Yuck.
I gave a test on graphing yesterday, and it's not good. I've looked over all the tests from my 10am section. (I marked each problem with a C or an X, but I didn't put a score at the top of most.) Only a few people did well enough for me to put a score on their paper. The rest will have "Redo" at the top. The 10am class has been delightful, people are working hard and having fun, and still, most of them did really badly. I gave them a practice test. I was clearer about which textbook sections have the problems they should use to practice. We went over the material in lots of different ways. They study together outside of class. They still bombed it. That section is a great group, and I'll be asking them what they think. But they might not know how to study more effectively. I love that group, and I feel stuck.
I feel like graphing is a great topic to do in engaging ways. I did a scaled down version of Dan's stack of cups problem with them. I want to do the egg bungee drop problem, but I haven't gotten the supplies, or tried it out. I need to find time to prepare for that. (I had time yesterday. Why didn't I pull it together?) But I feel pressure from the students (and myself?) to lecture, and to make it all organized and clear. (I cannot make it clear for them. That comes from struggling with the problems, and asking why each step of the way.) The projects feel like extras sometimes...
I'm reading blogs about Waiting for Superman and the Education Nation (the NBC series that has hardly any teachers, but purports to discuss education), and I keep running across the notion that getting rid of 'bad teachers' will improve education. (Obama really approved of the Rhode Island firing of all the teachers in a school?! That shatters my illusions. I know, that was months ago. But it's hard to digest...) I can't help feeling like a 'bad teacher' right now. I should have read more of the Doug Lemov book...
Blame my distress on insomnia perhaps, but I'm thinking my insomnia is caused by this distress... I may come back and add a bunch of links later, but I think I'll lie back down now and try again to sleep.