A new year… a new start: thinking about feedback.

With the end of summer, another school year begins.  For me, I have almost lost track of how many years I have been teaching high school math.  It’s fun every year, but I also can’t stop thinking about how to do it better.  A few things are running through my mind as reach midway through September.  I am curious and eager to teach a course I have not taught before, and I am excited to continue to re-invigorate and energize a course called Precalculus Honors.

As I correct some homework problems, I find myself wishing I had a stamp that allowed me to repeat my comments on each student’s page.  Instead, I’m rewriting over and over again: “These graphs look good – what else could be on your paper to help me see how you thought about sketching this graph?”  Part of me is wondering whether I could just say this out loud in class to all, to get the message across.  However, I have become less and less convinced that what I say in class is heard.  This is not to imply that my students aren’t attentive; I’m fortunate to teach in an independent school with small class sizes and eager learners.  Unfortunately, this means that I sometimes risk being lazy.  I need to keep thinking and learning about ways to keep my students engaged, and to help them learn from me and each other.  Therefore, feedback is a vital part of my work and even though my hand hurts a bit, I feel like each of my students will learn more from this assignment if I send this personal note to each one of them.