I know I've still got another day to go but I have something special to write about tomorrow, something I hope that is worthy of a final post in this project. So today I'm reflecting on how far I've come with my new classes this year so far.
Today I've had one of the best days since moving schools. I had four classes and all went pretty well. In the first class my tricky 9's played dice games that showed me they understood the idea that area takes up space. Nothing ground breaking except that instead of routinely following a set of instructions they played strategically and thought it was pretty easy. And, they played until the end. They still chatted, got distracted, moved seats, even had some dice throwing across the room but they all finished the game. And it was enjoyable. We had fun together. I'm called Mrs Maths by some of the boys in this class and I don't mind that at all. They've created a respectable, special name for me and I'm ok about that. The other tricky year 9's also had a good lesson. No fun games for learning but a lesson where no one walked out, no one had a go at another person, some work was done and I had a couple of laughs with some of them. Despite their behaviour this group has the widest variety of abilities and more stronger students than the other class. Perhaps its this diversity that makes them a bit more unsettled than the others group. But today the tension between myself and the students was lessened. I feel more hopeful.
With the 10's it was interesting to watch them grapple with the standard of effort I have set. I'm checking on their workbooks regularly and talking to them about what's been happening to prevent them from being up to date. Today they had to submit their stats poster. The two week process has been challenging for most of them. They keep telling me that they've never had to decide so many things themselves before, that they've never actually done a maths project before, they've never used a rubric in maths before and they've never been so unsure about the work they are doing and how to ask good questions to get help. I haven't made it easy for them and I have prompted them to be specific in their questions, to go back to their research question and ask themselves what story is the data telling. I have seen how hard they have worked and ried too and the reality is the final product doesn't matter so much. I'm almost reluctant to mark it because the process itself has been invaluable. I got them to do a self assessment with the rubric and I expect they will be harder on themselves than I will be.
I've been so impressed with them as they've grappled with the workload and the openness of the task and the balancing act of moving on to something else and having to meet up with their group outside of class to put together their poster. While they'll be looking for the grade I have to somehow impress upon them how far they've come in such a short time.
My students never cease to amaze me and every day we can learn something about them if we are looking for it. It's one of the greatest joys of teaching.