I’m on a hiring committee that is forcing me to miss three days of classes. I’m not going to lie — it’s stressful.
But here’s something awesome to come out of being on this committee. I’m getting energized and jazzed by listening to people talk about teaching and learning, and about school culture and organizational change, and talking about diversity in ways that are uncomfortable and interesting, and making me feel uncomfortable and excited about pushing myself as a teacher to be better. Even though my days are starting early and ending late (okay, okay, that’s nothing new), and even though we’re asking each candidate the same general set of questions, I’m actually not tiring of it. There are times I want to just stop the interview, grab the candidate, and have a one-on-one conversation. That’s a testament to the quality of the candidates we are bringing in. And it’s exciting for me.
And here’s something else that is good. Okay — here’s the bad first. I missed my precalculus class on Friday for the committee. We had Monday and Tuesday off of school for President’s day. On Wednesday, my precalculus class doesn’t meet. Today I missed my precalculus class (a 90 minute block!) for the committee. And tomorrow I miss them again for the committee. So I am freaking out about this. I planned a self-guided group-based investigation with a lot of scaffolding for my kids today. I wanted them to teach themselves the Law of Sines. Both prove it and apply it. Without me. And to make it concrete, they also were asked to use rulers/compasses/protractors to draw some triangles. So it had a hands-on component. You can see why I was nervous about leaving this for my kids. It’s a test for me if I’ve generated a set of kids who can persevere, problem solve, and work together or not. I don’t know if they succeeded.
But I did run into one kid in the class as I was leaving school at 8pm. And she said she liked class today! SERIOUSLY. Initially she said her group was struggling with the proof, and they were behind everyone else. And then they had an insight and things clicked. And by the end of the class, they had finished the packet — and she felt like she had a good grasp about it. Why? Because she said that initial struggle helped her group understand things, so that the remaining part of the packet went quickly and pretty easily. Did I mention the kids were working on the LAW OF SINES without me — and she said that?
I emailed a couple of other students to see how they felt class went (so I could get a sense of where to pick up when I see them again). And so far I’ve only gotten one response, but he said:
As a whole, the class seemed to start off a bit slow, (especially with deriving the Law of Sines itself) but after that little bump, things got moving. Speaking for my own group, we did not use the answer sheet today in class, and to be honest I did not see many people using it. However, I think the worksheet, at times, became a class effort and we were not only relying on our tablemates to check our work, but using everybody to come to a general, seemingly correct, consensus. I enjoyed what we did today in class. Working through it all by ourselves, I think, it really made us work to understand it.
Again, I don’t know if the whole class felt this way. And I certainly don’t have any evidence that students “understood” the law of sines. But holy cow, I feel excited about this. I feel so excited by this because it is evidence to me that I’ve created a group of kids who can work together to learn something new by persevering through difficulty.