Thoughts on Classroom management

In my EDI 331-09 content seminar, one of the articles I’ve read is this one in which the author articulates his journey from a pure traditional lecturer to a more student-focused instructional pedagogy.  I find myself torn, because some of the author’s points and recommendations are ones I find myself in agreement with, yet there are a couple that I find disturbing and wrong.  In particular:

  1. “Try not to repeat students’ answers”;
  2. “Be nonjudgmental about a response or comment”

 

WRT 1, a great tool I use to check to make sure I and other students [including the speaker!] are following along is for me to restate the student’s response in my own words and check back with them to see if I am understanding them.  This serves as a quick formative assessment so I can check to see if that particular student understands the material by presenting it to them in multiple fashions [my original presentation, their presentation, and my parroting of their presentation]; while I’m unsure on the research on this (I hate researching and I suspect it’ll be “mixed”), an observation and experience I’ve had on both sides of the desk is that it is best to receive information in multiple forms.

WRT 2, while I haven’t [as far as I can recall] explicitly written about judging, I am confident in asserting that it is right and vital to judge, as long as that judgment is made on valid grounds and by appeal to a legitimate standard of evaluation.  Unfortunately, I’ve seen and heard far too much of this in recent times about the need for individuals to “not judge” other individuals.  Let me say right here and right now that this is a blatant lie and a destructive evil.  Now, in a MTH classroom this comes to the bear immediately, because to judge something is to make a determination of whether or not a particular existent is right or wrong i.e. whether a particular thing is in agreement or disagreement with the facts of reality.  Since math is about reality [math is the science of measurements], then it follows that math must consistently be right i.e. in agreement with reality.  Hence to not be judgmental of a student’s response [especially when it is wrong] is to both encourage them that defying reality is okay {providing a moral sanction} and that lying to a student is somehow acceptable {it’s not}.  Obviously (to me, at least), a teacher shouldn’t be a complete jerk to the student when informing them that they are wrong [this defeats the purpose of promoting student discourse and developing self-esteem {yes I’m mildly pandering to emotions of students; however it is within the context that my students will understand that in my classroom, their emotions are equal to Euler’s equation}]; rather the teacher should ‘gently’ inform the student that they are wrong, but identify where their given answer could be correct and thank them for sharing.

In short, there are plenty of good practices employed by this author; however I fundamentally disagree on a couple of them.

 

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Education, DACA, and teaching

At the onset, here’s my generic disclaimer; beyond that, all I can say is feel free to read and comment as you so choose, and I’ll go from there.  Here I go!

Recently, President Trump announced that the DACA program will be ending early in 2018 unless Congress takes action to legalize that program.  That program has enabled ~800,000 young individuals to receive citizenship.  My own views on DACA, immigration, and the proper relationship between government and education are not what I’d like to discuss here; rather it is important to understand what these changes might mean to an educator and how a teacher might consider discussing this issue in class.

First the end of the DACA program will have some type of impact on the children beyond the immediate psycho-emotional issues currently assailing them.  There does exist a very real potentiality that all DACA recipients will be unable to have that renewed and be subject to deportation proceedings.  This will remove those students from the class/school environment and definitely create massive disruptions in the school due to the friendships that those students had formed in their time in the school.  On top of that, the decrease in students in the school will directly impact the amount of money some schools receive due to Count Day rules.

Beyond that, it is vital for an educator to remain neutral in any discussion regarding ANY potential discussion of social-political events.  Remember, an educator’s role is to provide information to students to enable them to think independently and reach their own conclusions NOT to reach a conclusion because their teacher said so.  Hence if/when a discussion of this {or any other!} issue arises, it is important that the teacher be informed on ALL facets of a particular issue in order to provide accurate and objective information to the students.  When facilitating a discussion amongst students on a topic, it is vital to set/maintain the expectation that the discussion remain civil i.e. no insults and no ad hominem attacks are to be tolerated.  Simultaneously, an instructor should serve as a proper moderator to facilitate higher level discussion amongst the participants.  Specifically, any discussion of this nature must be held at an intellectual, not emotional level (generally most/all discussions should be non-emotional!); while it is true that students are apt to get emotional about subjects that influence themselves or those they care about (which is natural!), it is not acceptable to have a discussion that is fueled by emotion.  The reason emotions must be kept in check [irrespective of the individuals talking] is that productive arguments are made when rational cases are made and ideas are explained in an open and reasoned manner.

To close, I leave these words from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged as a way to drive the point home about the import of reason and the consequences of abandoning it:

“Whatever may be open to disagreement, there is one act of evil that may not, the act that no man may commit against others and no man may sanction or forgive. So long as men desire to live together, no man may initiate—do you hear me? no man may start—the use of physical force against others.

To interpose the threat of physical destruction between a man and his perception of reality, is to negate and paralyze his means of survival; to force him to act against his own judgment, is like forcing him to act against his own sight. Whoever, to whatever purpose or extent, initiates the use of force, is a killer acting on the premise of death in a manner wider than murder: the premise of destroying man’s capacity to live.

Do not open your mouth to tell me that your mind has convinced you of your right to force my mind. Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where a gun begins. When you declare that men are irrational animals and propose to treat them as such, you define thereby your own character and can no longer claim the sanction of reason—as no advocate of contradictions can claim it. There can be no “right” to destroy the source of rights, the only means of judging right and wrong: the mind.

To force a man to drop his own mind and to accept your will as a substitute, with a gun in place of a syllogism, with terror in place of proof, and death as the final argument—is to attempt to exist in defiance of reality. Reality demands of man that he act for his own rational interest; your gun demands of him that he act against it. Reality threatens man with death if he does not act on his rational judgment; you threaten him with death if he does. You place him in a world where the price of his life is the surrender of all the virtues required by life—and death by a process of gradual destruction is all that you and your system will achieve, when death is made to be the ruling power, the winning argument in a society of men.

Be it a highwayman who confronts a traveler with the ultimatum: “Your money or your life,” or a politician who confronts a country with the ultimatum: “Your children’s education or your life,” the meaning of that ultimatum is: “Your mind or your life”—and neither is possible to man without the other.”

The potential uses of blogging

I don’t think having students creating a blog has any useful impact on their learning of math.  I also don’t quite see how a blog could follow any of the RAT model components with regard to student assignments/work.

Rather I think a blog is a great tool for any individual to use as a means to write out, reflect, and {potentially!} receive feedback on whatever they are writing about.

Specifically, a teacher could easily use a blog to reflect on a particular lesson.  Within this reflection, there might be several different factors at play; such as: a gut-check on how the lesson went, pro’s and con’s of the lesson, comparing initial expectations/anticipations to how lesson actually went, asking for advice, and to show success points.

Beyond this, I find blogging useful as a platform to share my thoughts on various events, both in my personal life and those in the world around me.

In short, blogging is great for an individual to use as a means of communicating on a wide scale; however I do not see a direct application to a lesson or unit [aside from a specific class dealing with writing or online writing]

MTH blogs on the internet

http://misscalculate.blogspot.com/

This blog features a teacher who provides lots of insight into her experiences as a high school math teacher.  While the majority of her blogs appear to deal with in the classroom experiences, ideas, and advice, some of them do pertain to interacting with students and thinking about the field of education and math education.

http://function-of-time.blogspot.com/

Here one reads lots of blogs pertaining to extremely unique connections between mathematics and a variety of ‘real-life’ activities.  While some of the connections I don’t grasp nor do I particularly care for, the fact that this blog makes a case for making connections between math and the real world [because math is about the real world!] is awesome.

http://math4teaching.com/

This is one that provides immense value because it provides concrete and theoretical advice on how to lesson plan and incorporate ‘good’ activities into one’s own classroom.  On top of that, the reflective blogs on how the actual lessons/activities went enable others who utilize those resources to consider how those things have already gone in a particular context.

http://blog.mrmeyer.com/

The fact that this individual has given several quality TedTalks on education and other topics makes his resume top notch.  The extra fact that his posts deal with a wide array of issues in education, both in the classroom and the philosophical, socio-cultural, and political, make this a must read.

http://blog.heartland.org/category/education/

this blog really gets dives deep into a pro-freedom, pro-school choice perspective on government schools.  Combine that with the strong research supporting the claims made by the “new-Abolitionist” movement, this is a superb place to be intellectually challenged on one’s preconceived notions regarding public aka government schools.

Quality People on the Internet

@coolcatteacher

A prominent teacher who provides numerous posts and resources and blogs for others to utilize.

@realsabijoy

Someone who has some education experience, but whose views on political events and the role of government are [unsurprisingly!] way different from my own.

@mrteacher

An interesting Twitterer who has a great sense of humor and some interesting insights into both the theory and practice of education, both in the classroom and the legistator.

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@AngelaMaiers

Someone who works outside the formal education system, but still offers excellent support and advice to educators and students and policy-makers to make education better!

@MathIsMyLife

This is someone who helps students form the very basics in MTH, numbers.  A great person to follow to gain new ideas on helping students learn various math topics.

@NCTMIllum

Lacking resources to lesson plan or a great activity to tie a lesson together? Look no further than here!

 @OnThisDayinMath

A good place to start to get students more interested in the MTH content.  This presents them with concrete historical moments that they might be vaguely aware of; while allowing for the instructor to make more meaningful connections.

@benorlin

Applies an accurate stereotype of most math people by applying some great comedy.  Worth looking into just for the LOL’s

@AlgebraFact

Another place to get some content specific facts that can serve to inspire students to dig deeper into math.

@GeometryDad

Makes a passionate case for connecting geometry to real life and provides lots and lots of examples for why geometry [and math more broadly] connects to real life

 

 

Potential Resources for Educators

I’m sure most readers already have a laundry list of groups, committees, organizations, and the like that offer advice, conferences, materials, etc. for various content fields at all grade levels; however I wonder how many educators take a moment to think about some of the deeper {read intellectual/philosophical} issues surrounding education.  It is with this in mind that I will discuss {per the requirements for this assignment in my EDT 370-02 class} two organizations that do an excellent job of doing just this.

First is the Heartland Institute based out of Arlington Heights, Illinois, USA.

They have a Facebook and Twitter presence that is easily found by searching for their name on either platform.  Heartland is a non-profit that anyone can sign-up for to receive their newsletters and emails; plus any individual can choose to donate to them to further the just causes they are arguing for.  They have numerous magazines, articles, and conferences/events that vary in price (from free to a few hundred dollars) in which a person will be inundated with facts and arguments about why government schools are immoral and impractical as compared to allowing for free-markets in the field of K-ph.D education.

The second is the Cato Institute.

Again, Cato has multiple social media accounts that provide easy access to their events/publications/etc. Similar to Heartland, Cato is a non-profit that provides free access to some of their newsletters and public events.  Additionally, an individual may choose to donate to Cato or pay to access some of Cato’s research, events, and the like.

To me, the difference between Heartland and Cato boils down to this: Heartland focuses a bit more on the political side of education i.e. getting the government out of education at all levels while providing some ideas on potential free market solutions in education; conversely, Cato does education research from the perspective of moving education towards free market and accepting the ideals of freedom and liberty.

Let me close by asking this: Why is it right for anyone else to tell another person what they should do with their life?  Why is it right that the agency of force gets to abduct kids and force-feed them mandated, standardized content for 13 years with little say from the parent(s)?  Why is it okay to steal the property of individuals to finance educational institutions that those individuals might or might not agree with? Why should an individual be ‘educated’ about only a prescribed set of standards and not be taught about a differing point of view {prime example: climate change}?

I submit that it is evil to initiate force against anyone else; even if 99.99% of people vote that government schooling should be legal, that does NOT make it moral. I submit that the institution that holds a monopoly on force [government] should not have the added power of determining what does and does not get taught to the next generation.  I submit that thievery is wrong, whether done by a lone robber or an entire government.

I will close with this quote from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged:

“Be it a highwayman who confronts a traveler with the ultimatum: ‘Your money or your life,’ or a politician who confronts a country with the ultimatum: ‘Your children’s education or your life,’ the meaning of that ultimatum is: ‘Your mind or your life’—and neither is possible to man without the other.”

About Me [for EDT 370-02]

While some of this information might be familiar to some of you, an assignment requires that this information be re-published.  Perhaps some of it is new, perhaps not.

As a general rule, I am a quiet and private individual; however I shall endeavor to comply with the requirements of this assignment by sharing a few basic facts about myself.

First, I was born in Lake Forest, IL, but I moved to Caledonia, MI when I was eight weeks old. I currently Math Teacher Assist at Godwin Heights High School, and I will end my final term at GVSU next semester by Student Teaching at a yet to be determined district.

Additionally, I have worked at Target as an Electronics consultant and EDUStaff has employed me since May 2016 as a substitute teacher. I gain immense material and spiritual value from both jobs, but I eagerly look forward to the time when I have my own classroom.

Finally, I have wanted to be a teacher since I was nine years old; however it was only in the past couple years that I fully understand the limitless value teaching offers to myself, especially in the teaching of mathematics. I apply a unique perspective to teaching mathematics by treating math not as a game of symbols or as being solely derived from another dimension; rather I hold that mathematics is about this world and I structure my teaching style to reflect this.

Please feel free to contact me as you so choose with any inquiries you might have about myself.

I look forward to furthering my own knowledge about the interplay between technology and education throughout the semester in EDT 370-02