Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How we teach matters

So I am still on my thought that my job is teach them all, versus just the students who play school.  But I had a couple comments about how hard those students are -- and I agree.  It can be a frustrating bunch of students (and all we can do is be optimistic and make each day new).  But I will tell you they don't want to fail, they want to succeed if there were a way in their mind, so my job is to make a path for their acquisition of problem solving abilities so they can become part of our world. 

That last part is important - does a student going to tech school, the armed forces, or the workplace really need matrices and complex numbers -- no.  Does a student not studying STEM even need that?  Again I think - no.  They need  the ability to pass basic algebra and math - that is why in my district I still split Algebra 1 into two years (1A and 1B) - while many of my comrades have removed 1A and 1B and try to get all students thru Algebra 2 in High School.  I simply try and make sure they can handle the math of the world and can think about math.   Many schools not only require Algebra 2 but they load Algebra 2 with high level math, does a student at technical school need to graph hyperbolas or be able to multiple large matrices -- again my answer is no.

They need to be able to graph lines, understand how to solve linear relationships, how to understand interest (the exponential nature) and they need to have practiced persistence.  I was engineer and never did hyperbolas -- did I use idea of symmetry, the idea of input/output - you bet, but that would be pre-calculus (again pre meaning needed for calculus so for STEMs).

So I approach every student with the decision that they must get knowledge.  My job is to find a way -- if grades don't matter, find a relationship and let them know they need to work for me.  And that is the key make a relationship, commit to them and then get them to commit to you.