Friday, September 26, 2014

Organization -- Not enough, or too much?

Statement of fact - I am not the most "organized" teacher.  Maybe I could be - but time is a limited commodity, and I do not like trading teaching time for neat piles.  I also don't trade teaching time for homework checking time (on a daily basis), a type of "neat pile."  I now check homework once every few days; I used to work hard at checking the work but the longer I have taught - the less I check and the better my students do.

Some of that is simply gaining some experience - I look back and know I do better in year 3 than year 1.  But it is more than that too.  The experience between year 7 and year 9 is not nearly as dramatic.  So student performance is definitely effected by teacher experience but there is point where it does not have a substantial impact.  It then becomes how you the teacher lead the class - your expectations, what you demand of them.

In industry you only give power for decisions to those you trust - and then you manage.  It is the same in school - a 16 year old cannot be allowed to decide to not be part of school or do school.  It is a young person's job, and if they cannot handle the decision to "do school" - then the educator (the senior manager) needs to take over and push.  And that is a ton of work - 10% of my students take 75% of my time.

I may not be  "organized" but homework is not a cornerstone of what we do (in my math room).  We work bell to bell like it is our job.  It is non-traditional, but I do not worry about what my class should "look like" either.

We do math from beginning to end.  A student is given a plethora of chances to show mastery - but no one is allowed to sit idle.  I joke, kid, mentally push them to be part of the class - just being quiet will not save you.  And thus everyday, every student has to do math for 44 minutes.

It allows me to ignore the routine of other rooms.  It allows me to use homework as practice but not learning.  It allows me to push students to mastery - so passing means a student who can succeed mathematically in the world.

And that is powerful.