Monday, October 19, 2015

Context is not enough. The power of sentence fragments, the need to be oh-so careful....

Was reminded again how powerful the teacher can be for evil (by mistake).  Often I talk about the need in my calculus class for students to study and make sure they treat the course like the college class it is (4 credits - is 8-12 hours per week in 1 semester, we do it over 2 semesters - so 4-6 hours per week).

But I accidentally ended a sentence with "you cannot get an A in this course."  And that is what is remembered.  Now that ending sentence fragment was part of a speech that you need to study to do well.  And the whole sentence that ended the speech was "If you do not study, you cannot get an A in this course."

But that is not what gets remembered.  I made sure to correct it and made sure students understood that everyone in the course can get an A.  And I reflected on how I talk about studying and Calculus - knowing now it would be better to say "If you do not study, it makes this course extremely difficult typically" or something like that. 

It is the details that count and we must remember the power we, teachers, have.  And even after a decade I still trip up.  That is why reflection is so important....

So to all my calculus students - studying is important and As are completely possible.