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Sweet Algebra

This morning I observed an experienced math teacher use chocolate to teach algebra.  This teacher was recommended by my mentor teacher as someone who commands a class with her mere presence.  She can.  She also has a big, booming voice.  She also knows her students.  The class I observed was a mixed class of 10,11, and 12th graders.  They were learning about exponential growth and decay by gathering data from cups filled with M & Ms.  The teacher explained the procedure and let the students know the chocolate was theirs to eat only after they collected all their data.  They would have a chance to snack while making calculations.  The students were very engaged and working on their problems and the teacher circulated around the room, stopping at every table group to answer questions and provide guidance.  The students had varying amounts of M & Ms in their cups so they each had to do their own calculations, but they helped each other understand how to do it.  The class was noisy and lively and they were working on math of all things!  It was great.

One of the reasons I like to observe other teachers in their classes is that I find it interesting and encouraging to see how each teacher puts their individual personality characteristics to work.  I have been struggling the past few weeks with my solo teaching, trying to teach classes in ways that my mentor teachers would teach the material.  My mentor teachers are still in the classroom most of the time, working at their desks while I am teaching, and their presence exerts an unintended pressure to do it their way.  They are, after all, my guides in this.  They are also each strong personalities.   The problem is, I am not them and I could not teach like them if I tried (obviously, since I have tried).  This afternoon, I talked with my mentor teachers about that.  They were very helpful and reminded me that I do just fine when I make the lessons my own because then I feel free to teach them my own way, putting my own personality qualities to work for me.  One way for me to do that is to make sample art projects like I did for the lessons I devised.  So  I will be making more art so I can better guide my students to make art.  It’s not chocolate–but then, it’s not algebra, either.

~ by anitawesto on February 27, 2013.