Monday, February 8, 2010

The Folks in Charge are out of it, and the Innocent Sheep Suffer

I'm supposed to prepare my students to take the regents in June. That means that I need to start covering ground much quicker. So last week I assigned almost the entire chapter one for homework. I just finished grading it. Aurgh!!! 93 flipping annoying problems. The results were abysmal: 64%, 60%, 48%. This was supposed to be a review of what they learned in past. But it's hardly surprising that they did so poorly. I didn't spend any time time in class going over it.

Now here's my dilemma. Should I spend time tomorrow discussing chapter one? But we need to go full steam ahead to meet the deadline. And if I spend tomorrow doing chapter one, I won't be able to assign stuff from chapter two for homework.

Should I just move on to chapter two? How can I teach more when they have shaky foundations? What if I review the stuff in chapter one that's relevant to the immediate future and deal with the other stuff later. But that will make my lesson plan even more disordered than it is already. I feel guilty not covering the material in order. A good teacher should have a clear lesson plan. If my lesson plan is so jumbled, that means I'm...

Now we've moved from practical questions like what to teach to value judgments like "good teacher," "responsible teacher," and ch"v the opposites. Which brings us to everyone's favorite value judgment: blame.

So who's to blame for my students imperfect education? Not them. They're kids. They don't take the homework as seriously as I want them to, but they do do it and hand it in on time. And of course they make mistakes--they had 93 flipping problems and they hadn't been taught this stuff since god-knows-when.

Am I to blame? I never had a chance to teach them this stuff. I think that if I explained to them how to do the problems they would do well.

Well why am I not given the opportunity to teach? Because I was hired in November instead of in August. Because I was hired to teach only once a week. Because nobody had told me what I was expected to teach or what they had already learned.

They still haven't arranged for me to start teaching twice a week (as if that would solve they're problems. In order for these kids to be ready by June, they'd need me to teach them five times a week!)

And here's what really pisses me off: kids all over learn math as a series a steps to follow in order to solve a problem. They never understand what the problem represents. The kids work way too hard remembering which steps belong to which problems instead of opening their minds. Or they focus on which types of problems they'll be tested on and which types they won't. Or they focus on which format their answers must be written in. This is wrong! I beg you, o powers that be, let me teach them algebra and trigonometry, not how to pass some stupid test!!

I shouldn't feel bad that the kids didn't do well on the homework or that the average grade on the exam I gave them was 70%. That's not my fault. I'm giving the kids the best education possible under the circumstances.

But I see the results of the authorities' irresponsibility--not them. So how can I not feel responsible?

So here's my moral dilemma. What do I teach tomorrow? Do I go over chapter one until the understand it, or do I rush onto chapter two? Was I hired to teach math, or was I hired to prepare kids for the damn Regents?

80 comments:

  1. did you ask the hanhala your last question which you posed to us?

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  2. my hanhala. ha. as if they have a clue.

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  3. This is exactly what they mean when they say that kids see things in black and white and mature persons see 'em in grays. Wait until you're a member of hanhola, and it'll be even more gray!

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  4. Ah, virtuous academia vs. practical, no?

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  5. There's also the issue that one of the kids is a big loudmouth and if I spend time on chapter one, he's gonna carry on the whole time how he knows it already--even though he's didn't do well at all on the homework.

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  6. Do Chapter 1. They won’t get Chapter 2 anyway, if they don’t understand Ch. 1. If you stretch yourself to teach for the regents, you will accomplish neither. Other way, at least the kids will know Math.

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  7. not necessarily. Their problem with chapter one was that they didn't understand how to solve inequalities and they didn't know how to deal with absolute value.

    Chapter two is rational expressions. For that you just need to know algebraic manipulation, which they know gantz fine.

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  8. so review chapter 1, and speed through chapter two, if they know it gantz fine

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  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  10. Ah the bitter taste of standardized education! the truth is you are hired to teach tests. Anything other than this requires more time with the students and more involvment with the curiculum. Its a awful shame but the truth is this what they expect, a large portion of the students to nearly or completly fail. To fight this battle you have to be full time and from the begining. I had the same trouble when i subed. Teach the tests now and live to fight another day. J

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  11. How big is the class? Are they motivated? Just go over inequalities and absolute value. You have to teach to the test, but for your own entertainment, read http://www.maa.org/devlin/LockhartsLament.pdf

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  12. This is why the teachers, not the parents, are to blame for the tznius situation in Crown Heights.

    (This has been a token COLLive comment)

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  13. sweet. I'm third place on your poll. I even beat out the nonprofit spammer. I guess we'll see if everyone will be dancing at his wedding first or mine...

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  14. Yossi: They know the principles of algebraic manipulation gantz fine, but they don't know anything else gantz fine.

    Modeh: They were instructed to call me "Mr. ." I told them on the first day to call me by my first name, but later realized that that was a mistake. We're now on a "hey you" basis, but officially I'm Mr. .

    Yossi: iy"h

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  15. J: that article you linked to was horribly written. He spend 25 pages writing what could have fit in 3 page.

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  16. Maybe you should have the loud mouth teach the first chapter again to the class.

    a-it will put him in his place and b-the other kids will see that you are serious about needing to review.

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  17. I was about to ask what I did that was delete-worthy but then I realized the confidentiality violation, sorry.

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  18. Agree about the horrible writing, but it's an idea that needs more exposure even though it's wrong for other reasons. To make it up to you, I'll give you a good link:
    http://blog.plover.com/math/Gdl-Smullyan.html

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  19. Anonymous person who claims to be J: that link was much nicer.

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  20. Arguing with MyselfFebruary 13, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    A tautological post if I have ever seen one STOP

    This would have been the extent of my post, but for those that read sentences as a series of steps rather than figuring out what the language represents:

    YOu are complaining about the style of education, yet the entire purpose of your being hired was for this style that you rail agianst. regents. STOP

    PS What does inncoent mean?

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  21. I just noticed that according to the last poll, non-profit spammer has more of a chance to get married than I do. Thanks guys. : P

    Well, on the other hand it looks like I've got the same chances as Chanalia. And she's supposed to be cool, right? Not as grim a forecast as I thought then. : )

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  22. Perhaps you'd like to marry chanalia?

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  23. Yes, that would solve our little dilemma here, wouldn't it? I mean, from what I understand she's well 'ot, but I'm afraid there are probably few people more ill-suited for one another. : )

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  24. What is this "well 'ot" of which you speak?

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  25. I thought you might ask ; ). British slang: "well hot", as in "very hot" ("well fit" works too). It's the kind of terminology the likes of "Ali-G" would use...

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  26. You're saying that you find her attractive?

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  27. ....I'm not sure I'd put it in those words. But essentially "yes" I suppose.

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  28. Nu? Shidduchim have been made for worse reasons.

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  29. Ha. I'd probably get along better with that non-profit spammer : ). ...if it's a chick!

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  30. Oy, you're so close-minded.

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  31. Ha. Even if she was my type, shidduchim is a two-way street G. : )

    (Oh yes, "G" is gangster.)

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  32. But quick enough?

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  33. "But quick enough?"- ...what does that even mean?

    And you still didn't answer your little question G.

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  34. It's a joke. And it's on you. But you didn't get it.

    Which question?

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  35. ...Nah niga', I only get my own jokes! Guess you're gonna' have to spell it out for me this time.

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  36. Maybe tomorrow, I'm too tired, off to sleep.

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  37. Haha, I was wondering how this would play out.

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  38. In the end, my undoing was the same as e's always is... forgetting to click that little anonymous option...

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  39. Oh, I thought you were answering my question (regarding your identity).

    And, if I'm not mistaken, you still got a joke to 'splain to me!

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  40. AWM: Correct, only a school with the problems of which I complained would hire someone like me. But the problems are still problems. I still am bothered that the kids are getting a subpar education.

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  41. shriki: you never know who's gonna read this stuff. you really should be careful what you post online.

    TRS: I haven't implemented this idea yet, but I think it would be wise to leave anonymous comments from a different browser, thus forcing one to be anonymous.

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  42. Shriki: In layman's terms, I "fooled" you.

    e: A wise move that would be.

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  43. Arguing with MyselfFebruary 14, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    Re: e

    metascruples:
    keep word/ stand on educational principle?

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  44. thanks to whomever commented on my behalf regarding the 2 way street

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  45. wow is this a shidduch in the making here? shriki and chanalia. hmmmm.

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  46. wow im on a poll that no one told me about, AND i got 2 votes? ok people, 'fess up. not bad.

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  47. "thanks to whomever commented on my behalf"

    "Sure thing- t'was my pleasure"

    G-d damn it, I still don't get what went down over there..

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  48. i assure you , it was nothing beyond your intellectual capacity

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  49. Anyway, I'm supposing TRS linked his comment to your page, and spoke as you obviously. And "quick enough?" is suggesting that it would have been impossible to have been you. Still not 100% on that last point though..

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  50. Darling shrikaleh, I'd love to explain, but it just seems so pointless.

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  51. No "השגה" or "ידיעה" is pointless! But yeah, to me it was more a test of my "khaping" capabilities than anything else!

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  52. ok the conversation ended a while ago. i know i dont have to follow, but its coming to my inbox and this is lame...

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  53. Shriki: nu nu, zul zein a kapore.

    Altie: ditto.

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  54. Altie: Now I feel a little like non-profit spammer. ...maybe we have more in common than I thought. : )

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  55. who is non profit spammer? and shriki you didnt even get one vote.

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  56. i try not to read what you write. ya i saw it. i have better things to do then comment here. you should find something to do as well.

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  57. shriki, I try to read what you write.
    and I had a hunch the anon was trs. I won't go so far as to say in OT style "I knew it the whole time".

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  58. Agm: can you at least give us full sentences?

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  59. Shriki: TRS commented as "anonymous" and as chanalia to get you to discuss your opinion of chanalia. Now we all know that you think chanalia is hot and are able to snicker to ourselves. That's the whole story.

    Yossi: I will go there. I knew it the whole time.

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  60. e: Yeah, that much I had. I was just asking about the "quick enough" thing (though I think my theory about it was correct).

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  61. you said, "That was quick". I wrote, "but quick enough?"

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  62. Yeah, that's all I was f--king asking about; what does that mean? Like I said, I supposed you meant that it would be impossible for it to have been anyone but the person who'd been commenting until then (i.e. you)..?

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  63. Not at all. If I could comment quickly, why not anyone else? The point was... there was no point.

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  64. Arguing with MyselfFebruary 15, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    Re:e
    assuming that agm is I:

    if you have opposing scruples which takes priority?
    A) keeping your word regarding the purpose of your hiring: prepare them for the regents, and thereby giving them an education solely to answer a series of questions and not gaining real knowledge.
    B) holding by your responsibility AND beliefs regarding the children's education entrusted to you, teaching them as they are supposed to be taught, even if that means that they won't be ready for the regents by the end ofbthe year, but the knowledge that they will have acquired under you careful and loving pedagoguery will be true and lasting.

    Upon this lies the solution to your dillema.

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  65. Arguing with MyselfFebruary 15, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    Re: time

    noticing the time stamps of the previous two comments ( shriki and trs) I was momentarily confused by the fact that 12:20am was earlier than 11:55am.

    Perhaps we can mark this down to one of those instances wherein the euroean model of 00:00(am) actually makes more sense.

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  66. Arguing with MyselfFebruary 15, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    Re: awm

    of the
    your
    dilemma

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  67. yep, i gotta do what i was hired to do, i.e. prepare the kids for the regents, even though it pains me to do so.

    good point regarding the time.

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Forth shall ye all hold.