Queen of the Quadratic

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Update: Open House

I didn't have enough time to produce a presentation for open house. I do have a fairly decent teacher web page with a lot of good resource links and document links and information about tutoring times, test make-up times, contact information, etc, so I simply pulled up my webpage and walked them through the grand tour. I have a really nifty presentation device that we call an "echalkboard" (though that isn't the official name) that comes with some nice software that allows me to display anything on my computer and then write over it (without damaging the integrity of the original document/webpage/photo/whatever). Many of the parents in attendance were mesmerized by my toy, so that helped fill the time. During the 13 minutes each that I would've had for lunch and conference, I intended to grade a few papers, rest my voice, etc, but that plan was foiled by ONE parent each stopping by because they were in a later class and wanted to get home earlier to catch some TV show. So instead of making six additional presentations for open house, I had to make 8 additional presentation. Frustrating.

I had one lady ask me about whether it is the student's responsibility to come to me if he/she is struggling. I responded in the affirmative, but that question has been haunting me ever since. What would be the alternative? I simply can't imagine a feasible other option.

My plan to deter the impromptu parent conference was a failure. The ones that wanted to have a chat about their specific kid just stayed after the original presentation and asked me. They want to know things like "What is his/her grade at present?" (which is available on the web in real time at their convenience), or "What are your tutoring time?" (clearly discussed in my presentation for them during the class period) or "Susie has practice after school on day x and day y and her brother has practice on day z, so she can't stay after on any of those days. She has practice every morning too. Do you have any *other* tutoring times?" Say WHAT??? This one, I hear every year and it never ceases to amaze me. I offer EIGHT tutoring times per week, and these people don't think that's enough because it doesn't fit neatly into their athletic schedules. Did it ever occur to them to hire a private tutor? Isn't that what you should do if you *can't* make it to any of the FREE tutoring times?

On the brighter side, most of the parents that came did not try to put me on the defensive but offered support for anything that I might need to help their children succeed. I also had several of my students from last year come by with their parents because the kid wanted mom to meet "My favorite math teacher ever." That felt really good!

One of my current students (also a student of mine two years prior) said his mom thought I was the best math teacher too. Wow.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Open House

Starts at 7 PM. We shuffle the parents through all 8 periods, spending 7 minutes in each class with 6 minutes for them to get from one class to another. I thought.... "I'll prepare a presentation that lasts roughly 7 minutes to prevent these people from trying to corner me into an impromptu parent conference. So, I put together my presentation.

I have conference and lunch back to back, so I thought I'd have a few minutes to grade papers, relax, catch my breath...etc. Since I was in my room, I had ONE parent show up for each my conference and my lunch period who wanted to get home a little early to catch some TV show (groan). So, in addition to the 6 presentations I gave throughout the day for my actual classes, and the six presentations I gave to the people that arrived at the right time, I had to give 2 personal presentations. Do some quick math.... 14 presentations in a single day!

My plan to avoid the on-the-spot conference was also a failure as those that wanted to have that just hung around after it was time to go to the next class to ask me about the kid's grade/behavior/weaknesses/or whatever.

I really abhor this practice. It is simply cruel to make us do this every year.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Good News

I ran into a former student who had returned to campus (for what I haven't a clue) and she said, "I think about you every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday." So I asked her what math course she was taking currently and she said it was college algebra. She told me that it was easy for her because (so far) it is just the things she learned in my class in high school (2 years prior). She also said that others in the class were really struggling and she just couldn't believe it!

I invited her to come speak to my current lot of students (though I think I've got a good bunch this year). She politely declined, but thanked me for providing her with the background and the rigor she needed to succeed in college.

Homecoming and Tests

Perhaps homecoming is not the best day to give a test. One of the senior guys in my precal class was wearing a mum on each bicep while taking his exam. Each time he needed to erase, his arm made a tinkling sound and I couldn't help but laugh (as quietly as was humanly possible).

The girls were heavily weighted down with mums too. Several of them, mindful of the level of concentration going on in the room, were walking VERY slowly to minimize the noise. One girl decided that she didn't care one way or the other and walked briskly to my desk to turn in the first section of the test. Though I thought it was hilarious, I decided to say, "SHHHHH" loudly to which she apologized profusely. I had to confess I was joking.

The whole situation was hilarious. I'm sure I'll forget about homecoming being a less than desirable day for an exam by next year : )