Mathing Adventure: Day 1

It was painful. Not because of the content but because of the pedagogy or lack there of.

For my math section, our first scheduled meeting was the lab, not the lecture. Like many of the students I was not sure if this should happen. It just seemed odd. So that is probably where I would start if I were the teacher. Addressing the students and talking about how these courses work in tandem (maybe they do- I am still not sure).

I do know there was no community building. There was no making me feel welcomed. I am in a carrel  in math lab. I am hoping once we actually go to the lecture I will at least get to see the faces of my classmates. I have met a few and they seem awesome!

Another thing, I am conflicted with is that even though they want us to attend this math lab and it seems we only have to attend once to get our “credit” the only other incentive is that our “grade” in this course will be used as extra credit for our lecture course. We can earn a max of 10 extra credit points. Knowing how motivation works, this is not going to work. It is too distal of a goal. I would be interested to see the average “extra points” for this “lab.” I now use quotes because I am not sure it is a lab.

It was so hard for me to sit and watch, when I knew things could be done so differently and for the better. This may be the hardest part for me being in the classroom. I want to fix, adjust, make suggestions in the moment. I may need to put a rubber band on my hand to remind me I am the student, not the teacher. I am not the “university supervisor” out checking on my interns to see what could be improved and what is going really well.

“Lab ended” and though I was excited to be back in the classroom and working problems – I really do love math- the #edpsych professor in me was frustrated.

After eating lunch (way too quickly) and then teaching my own class – which went pretty, though there is always room for improvement- I skedaddled over to my lecture class for math. I did not have high expectations for this part and they were met.

First off, I get to the door (well what I assumed was the only door) for class and it is locked. I checked my watch to make sure I was not late.  I was not. But the prof gives me a weird look as she is already passing out papers. I am worried. What happened? Is she going to let me in? This is a horrible way to start and I have done this- going to class- MANY times. After she lets me in, she lets me know there is another door I could have come in- there was no sign on the door. Now, I am cool with this but I can’t imagine how some other students with less confidence in the classroom would have felt.

Next, like way too many college classes, we go over the syllabus. I don’t find it to be helpful and I am quite confused by some of the policies listed. I find myself writing “why” next to many of them and plan to follow up.  It is here in moments like this that I feel I can and will use my privilege.  I know the game of school well. I am a white woman who is overly college educated and I am going to use all of these in this situation. Also the syllabus is not student friendly.

And again there was NO community building. No getting to know us. I have no idea what the students names are. One student had a legit issue and I said I could help and then we just kept going. We are not going keep students in the class and on campus if we keep teaching courses like this.  ARGHHHHH

For the remainder of the class, we go over the “review” material. Now, I am not sure when was the last time the other “normal” students in this course took this material but I can tell you that for me this review is based on learning from 20 years ago.  So I am not sure it is a review as much a reintroduction? But the prof held pages from a book, read from them, and did the examples on the board. It was as bad as all of the students have said it was but some how worse. It was painful. I felt bad that I just wanted to check my phone, glance at my watch and felt a huge pain when we still have 30 minutes to go.

It was in these moments I remembered why it important for teachers to become students again.  We need to know what it is like when things go wrong in the classroom. I had to practice some serious self-regulation because I just wanted to keep checking my phone. I wanted to use it to check on a few things listed in the syllabus. I wanted to x, y and z but per the syllabus I was not to have it out and also I know that if I had it out I would be distracted. BUT I still wanted to use it at times. I also readjusted my sitting position at least 10 times. Those seats were not comfortable. Again- we teachers need to keep putting ourselves in the students places- literally.

In the end, though I was able to at times focus on the content, I just kept trying to think of ways we could improve the teaching. What activities could I use to make this material more accessible, relevant and engaging for these students? I know this is the “lowest” math class offered on campus. These students are already struggling and from what I saw we are not using any best practices to help them. For me this is criminal.

**Note Class was NOTHING like this awesome pic from the University of Akron Math Lab