Today I had one of those great moments which put an impossibly huge smile on my face. Today I had about a zillion student meetings. I had no free periods the entire day! One of the meetings had to take place while I was on “front hall duty” — manning the table where kids sign out to leave the school building for lunch.
While I was helping this student — and if I say so myself, doing an amazing job of explaining the really conceptually hard Fundamental Theorem of Calculus Part II — one of the people who works at the school, the mother of one of my former students, passed us and then doubled back to speak to us. She said “Wow! I just had to say that this image is so great. This is such a great thing. A second semester senior and a teacher working so hard. This is amazing. I wish I had a camera.”
I took stock of the situation, and grinned. I patted my student on the shoulder, made two fists and pumped them in the air, and said “Yeah!”
Teaching seniors is hard. But if you set clear expectations and help them reach them, you too can be as great a teacher as I am. (Just kidding.) But yeah, my faith in my kids’ is on the upswing.
That is a great moment.
I had 6/10 of my AP Physics class come in over their vacation and work really hard for two and a half hours. I felt really good about it, and I think they did too.
@Jake: Wow, that is amazing. Were they taking a practice AP exam?
They have a full practice AP exam to do over vacation, and we just worked on a sampling of different AP questions… they still have the full exam to do. I’m guessing they’ll save that for Sunday evening.
I have an item on my todo list: “How do you teach AP Physics with a minimum of notes?” I’m sure it’s similar to your calculus classes — I have an /enormous/ amount of material to get through and notes are efficient. How do you get away from notes in classes where efficiency is important?
@Jake: It’s a good question! I don’t teach an AP class, but I think the first thing I would consider doing is find a basic book on the subject (not the AP book) and have students read the section of the topic being taught the night BEFORE it is taught (and answer a few questions to turn in). That way they have a basic sense of what’s going to happen in class and will have some conceptual sense to grasp onto. Plus it would teach students how to read and learn math-y/science-y material on their own – a skill students ought to learn in high school but I doubt most do. (Well, you’d probably have to take a day teaching them how to read and understand the book on their own.) That’s just my first thought, anyway.