Friday, September 28, 2007

Hurt feelings

Today is the third (fourth? who's counting) time in two weeks I cried because of things my students said. I guess I am starting to doubt that I can even teach. But what I wanted to leave a note about is this: we always talk about how we have to be careful when we talk to our students, but nobody ever tells students they should be careful about the way they talk to their teachers. Teachers have feelings, too. I suppose it's fine of the time, but it's the students who want to be teachers that I am sad about. It just seems that there is a serious case of split personality. When you're a student you're a student only, and when you're a teacher you forget you were a student. I'm just gonna go mop around some more.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


So far I have largely ignored the way Americans write their division: divisor first then dividend. I learned it differently. Mind you, the algorithm is exactly the same, it's just the way it is written that differs: dividend, divisor and quotient are all in the same line, in that order, and the rest is the same. Now that I teach elementary math I have to train myself to do it the "wrong" way. Can anybody explain to me why the order in which these numbers are written in the algorithm seems to contradict what is being done, or is that just my perception influenced by years of drill I was subjected to? Also, whenever I show "my way" to people they say it doesn't make sense even though it is exactly the same process. Does that show the lack of understanding or lack of willingness to understand?

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Ok, so I have no idea how other people do it, but I feel like I am on the verge of drowning. Getting ready for classes, grading constantly, now we'll start math circles for teachers, need to write grants. Yikes.

So, we've been going for almost three weeks now. Apart from feeling like there should be 36 hours in a day, I'm enjoying both my classes a lot. Since I have some grading to do and I have to get ready for tomorrow's class I'll only write two observations.

El. math teachers course: From what I can observe (and this class isn't exception, I don't think) my students believe that in order to learn mathematics they only need to solve problems. But how can you find a complement of a set if you don't know what a complement of a set is. It is hard work to make them learn definitions. Or even to see the value of definitions.

Secondary: There was a homework problem that I assigned that asked "How would you want your students to respond to question: Explain why the sum of the digits of any multiple of 3 is itself divisible by 3." The question came form Principles and Standards, so one might imagine that this is material that these students will be expected to teach once they become teachers. I wonder what response you think I got. I'll tell you about three that I found most surprising: they said that they wouldn't expect their students to know the answer since they themselves don't know it. What was surprising, or rather what made me sad, was the fact that not only did they not know, but they didn't express any desire to find out. They didn't say "We'll look it up" nor "Can you tell us?", and they definitely didn't say "I'll work it out." I guess it's only a beginning of the semester :) Maybe we'll see some improvements as the class goes on.