It is part way through exam week as Semester One draws to a close, and I realize that many of my “New Year’s Resolutions” from this fall have faded from my mind. I am about to pick up another class and want to spend the time to get to know them so we can work well together in the second half of the year. As my mind goes there, I realize that I have not done some of the things I wanted to do this year. In September (and even earlier), I was planning to find ways to make my classroom feel more like an elementary school classroom. I tried a few days with “centers” in my Calculus class, but my activities were too long and made the rotation idea less realistic. Although I was initially enthused, I didn’t work at it hard enough to make it viable. Now, I’ve just stopped.
I have three classes with very different personalities. One small group is extremely quiet. What changes do I need to make so I hear their voices more often, and they get what they need out of class? Another group is boisterous, eager to jump up and do problems at the board. However, two or three students sometimes get left out of that vibe. How can I reclaim some class time to make sure everyone has their “moment”? My last section is my favorite. I know you’re not supposed to have a favorite, but I do. I’m crediting some of the time I put into the class at the start of the year to build the environment we want in the room. However, a lot of it is pure luck of the draw with who is in the class and how they interact. It’s a variety of freshmen, sophomores and juniors, all of whom are curious. They have just submitted their second big project of the year, and have had two real opportunities to explore an idea of interest to them. We have had multiple days where I have had what felt like the perfect class with people all over the place, all working on different things in slightly different ways, and me interacting with a few of them in significant mathematical conversations. I want to make opportunities for more of that to happen.
I know I’m tired, and that it’s a cold, rainy day in January. However, I want to find the energy to direct to each of my classes (including the new one) so that each student has the best experience in the second half of the year as possible. But first, I need to grade some exam projects. 🙂