10.08.2009

Encouraged, Again

Last Monday I was feeling overwhelmed. I go through these phases when I plan ahead, get a few days worth of lessons/notes put together, and then I get through one day and realize I'm not really ready for the next day at all because things didn't go the way I planned. These phases often leave me frustrated and irritated that I spent time up front that seems to be wasted. In the long run the time spent is not wasted, but it's still frustrating to *think* you're ahead and then *realize* that you're just as far behind as you normally are, despite the extra time you put in.

Anyway, that's how I was feeling Monday. And Tuesday I was supposed to get observed for the first time this school year. "Great," I was thinking, "just great." I had a less-than-stellar lesson planned, introducing graphing one-variable inequalities and solving one-step inqualities. Not something normally covered in Alg1 (it's a middle school concept), but that's what my kids need. I sent my lesson overview to my principal the day Monday and continued brain-storming ideas on how to make it more interesting.

I arrived Tuesday morning, less frantic than Monday (did I metion that I slept through my alarm on Monday morning, too...talk about a rough start to the week), and prepared myself mentally for the lesson and observation. Class started and I knew it was going to be a good day. I picked my best class for this observation. To provide some sort of closure from the day before and transition to the new topic, I had 2 students present problems from earlier (one- and two-step equations).

I was blown away as they were presenting. Without my prompting, they were explaining why the balance method for solving equations worked.
ex. 4x-7=9. I first added 7 to both sides because it's the opposite of the negative 7 that you have right now. I can cancel out the -7 and +7 because they equal zero. Then 9+7 is 16. I pull down the 4x = 16. Next I need to divide because it's the opposite of the multiplication that's happening now. I end up with x = 4
This type of reasoning and explanation never happened voluntarily in my classes last year. It's something I really have been working on with the students by asking a lot of "Why?" and conceptual questions. While the student was presenting, I kept thinking, "He's answering every question that I would have asked him!"

Later in the class, I found a way to make a boring part interesting by having the kids move around a bit. They needed to decide whether or not to flip the inequality. If it needed to be flipped, they stood up. If it could stay, they stayed sitting. One student made a mistake and stood up when the rest were still sitting. He felt silly at first, but his neighbor looked at him and explained why it didn't need to be flipped. He even gave an example of a situation (using the same numbers) where it would need to be flipped.

I was astounded. I love my job because I get to see things like that happen. I get to see kids grow and learn and teach each other. And I get to sit back and just watch sometimes! LOVE it. *smile*

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