Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Math Teacher Remembers Her Students (Education Realist) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

A Math Teacher Remembers Her Students (Education Realist) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

A Math Teacher Remembers Her Students (Education Realist)

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This abridged post comes from the blog Education Realist. The teacher who writes this blog prefers to remain anonymous. I have observed this teacher teach math and social studies lessons; we have also met and had lunch discussing many issues in public schools.
In the fall of 2012, I began my first year at this school. I met a group of 29 freshmen in their first high school math class: geometry.  From the beginning, we all clicked. A new school didn’t seem quite so intimidating because every day of that first semester started with camaraderie and good times–and some learning, too.
Of the 26 who stayed the whole year, all but one passed. Nearly half Asians (from every part of the continent), over half the rest Hispanic, and seven whites, and one African American. Ten athletes, including two who turned their ability into scholarships. The eventual senior prom queen. All those who passed made it through trigonometry, at least. Most made it to pre-calculus. Only a few made it to Calculus or Advancement Placement Statistics.  They reflected the school’s population writ large: diverse, athletic, not overly focused on academics, but smart enough to get it done.
A few others were never in one of my classes again, but I saw them frequently; they’d always shout a greeting across the quad, identifying themselves because they know I never wear my glasses.
The remaining saw me in at least one subsequent math class. None seemed to mind.
When we talked, as we did often, we’d regularly refer to “that first geometry class”.  Our touchstone memory, kept alive through four years of their education.
One of my “three-timers”, a sweet, tentative young man who never had another math teacher until pre-calc, stopped by with his yearbook. As we thumbed through the senior pages, calling out familiar faces, he suddenly said, “Man, I bet you’ve taught most of the seniors at least once.”
We counted it together—of the 93 rows of four students each, I’d taught 288 of them, or roughly 75%. Many more than once.
In the face of that percentage, I decided it was time to work around my dislike of crowds, speeches, and heat in order to represent on their big night. So at 4:30, I showed up at the stadium to help assemble them for the procession.
At first, the seniors were gathered in informal groups outside the staging area, taking pictures, talking, dancing about impatiently. Many called me over or waved, shouting out their names.
As they moved into the cafeteria for the staging, I wandered around, touching base, asking about plans, saying goodbye. As I’d expected, they needed teachers to organize the alphabetized lines for the procession, so I took a list of twenty. Rounded them up, hollered them into line, while the fourteen students I’d taught A Math Teacher Remembers Her Students (Education Realist) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

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