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Ninth Week
November 3

Monday - November 3, 1997

It looks like I will be teaching a maximum of 12 more days. I say "maximum" because it depends on how long I will be gone for interviews and when exactly student teaching gets over. The schedule claims that I have to teach through finals week. This seems a little odd to me... In any event, Maureen says that she is dreading when I am gone. She sat in 5th hour today and observed the "lack of a clue" that I refer to often in these entries. She said she doesn't know how she'll handle it when she is the only one around to answer the "stupid" questions. I know what she means. It's really frustrating to teach a concept every way you know and see a bunch of kids just not getting it. What makes it worse is when the concept is really simple... I normally feel like I'm doing a bad job teaching when that happens, but when it happened today, Maureen was watching and she said that she didn't know of any other way to explain it either. Given her 10 years of teaching experience, that makes me feel a little better.
    Algebra II wasn't quite so bad. I had to explain a few things in a little more detail then I had wanted to, but with the exception of a few that rarely get anything from the class, most of them got it in the end. We covered graphing systems of inequalities. The biggest problem is still graphing the lines themselves. This mystifies both Maureen and I. How hard can it be graphing y=2x+1?
    Both Geometry classes were taking the chapter test today. I haven't looked at them, yet, so I don't know how they did. Hopefully, pretty good.
    In 4th hour Algebra I, I covered solving inequalities using multiplication and division. The only difference between solving inequalities that way and solving equations is that you need to reverse the inequality sign when multiplying or dividing by a negative number. I explained to the class why this is but I'm not sure that many of them understood what I was talking about. In any event, they memorized that they need to "flip the sign". We'll see how long that bit of knowledge lasts.
    I already described a little what 5th hour was like. The first thing I did was hand back the quizzes they took on Friday. The median score on it was 100%! The class average was an 'A'. This put them in a good mood and boosted their confidence a bit. I moved on to solving inequalities using addition and subtraction. Since the steps are exactly the same, there wasn't any confusion there. The confusion came in my explanation of how to check if your solution is correct. I explained that checking only a potentially valid solution will not always assure a correct solution. For instance, if a student solved x+2>7 as x>9 (an incorrect solution), the check could still work out. The check, in this case would involve substituting some number in the solution set into the original equation to see if it still holds true. So a student would put 10 into the equation and get 12>7, which is true! I told the class that to prevent this, they need to also check some number that is not in the solution set to make sure it doesn't work.
    The class as a whole just did not get this. I worked on that concept for a good 20 minutes before it seemed to me that the majority of the class understood it. Even then, there was a select group of "rocks" that still didn't get it.
    I'm not sure what to do with Phil. He just will not stop talking. I've moved him to all four corners of the room, I've kept him after class, I've yelled at him, I've made him stand in the front of the room and in the back of the room. No matter what I do, though, Phil insists on talking. He even talks when he's being punished! What do you do with someone who just will not shut up?
    I think I'll try kicking him out of class next. If that doesn't work, I'll have to either call his parents or have a talk with Craig. If he continues to be disruptive, we might need to remove him from the classroom. It's stuff like this that makes me glad that I'm not going into teaching immediately after I graduate...

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