Watch and Learn

Today was something of a day off for me. Because of the rain I had eight absences which included five of my most challenging students. So, it gave me a chance to teach in an ideal setting - smaller class, little to no distractions. I was able to give much more attention to the students and keep a much better eye on everything going on. Now, if they could just get classes down to this size for all classes all year round we might be on to something.

In spite of the decreased stress I was already getting kind of worn down midway through the day. I'm fighting off a cold and when the heat is actually on in my classroom it turns the room into a furnace. By lunch I was just plain sick of talking and sick of hearing my voice. I asked a math cluster teacher to come in and help out my kids during afternoon AIS and luckily he was free to help.

All the kids love this particular teacher, and for good reason. He acts like a crazy person in the classroom which is to say he's funny, dynamic and engages the kids in a way nobody else would dare to. Some of his approach is shocking even to me, but whatever works right? And if it means calling out kids who aren't getting a concept in an unorthodox way that gets their attention, so be it.

In the course of 45 minutes this teacher kept the kids' attention while explaining the concept of rounding. I had tried and failed to explain the same idea a couple of hours earlier. What impressed me most was the way this teacher was able to connect to the kids and help make math easy to relate to. Whether he was talking about having your grandma over for dinner, Jimmy Neutron, Nintendo DS, or Yu Gi Oh, he found a way to connect the math to the kids everyday lives, and it never felt forced.

It was the kind of experience that gave me hope that teaching isn't just about being a certain archetypal role model or following a strict workshop model. The only question that really matters is did the kids learn something? At the very least it gave the kids a break from listening to me, which was enough to make a difference.


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