Twenty Days

Wayoooooo, October!

It’s much easier to not blog than to blog – but it’s also much easier to feel sane in every other month except for October, right? It’s been twenty days since I’ve written, and so I’d like to break that streak with a list of a few things I would have written about, given time, over the last few weeks.

1. By most appearances, the Gas Tax project kind of bombed – students were confused, and only about a third of them got to the point of handing in a final draft. I despaired a few times, and was eager to move on from there. HOWEVER: students had conversations about the fairness of user taxes and regressive taxes (each of which the gas tax is). They argued with each other – without yet having the words “conservative” or “liberal” – for different types of fiscal policy. They really wanted to know more about scientific notation, and percents, and unit analysis. They were fascinated, and we were all invigorated in ways different than we usually are in the math classroom. Students felt open-minded about the rest of the year, and expectations have been set for future projects: even students who didn’t quite finish this one feel like they’re primed for the rest of the year.

2. How do you teach urgency, when “doing really well, for this school” really just means that kids are only gaining mediocre understanding of things?  How do you tell them, “yeah, that was good, but look how much more we can do…”?

3. How did we get to this place where so many kids feel like they’re just doing me a favor by doing the work I assign?  Big question, that I’d like to address from a few angles.

4. Yes, there was other stuff.  But boy were these last few weeks fast.

5. How important it is to remember the optimistic energy of late August.  How to cultivate ways to go back to that place regularly, and see all the forest.

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One comment

  1. Your comments ring so true for two months in! It seems that with the end of the first quarter there comes the inevitable reflection on that amazing August plan that didn’t quite yield the big bang I was hoping for. After all these years, I still choose to exploit August’s offerings and temper my optimism with a practice of “what will strengthen this next time?” in early November. The upside is that you embarked on a new project (fueled by late August’s optimism) and, true to your philosophy, allowed the students to grapple with it — it’s their learning, after all. It takes courage to do both of those things and they are “pricey”; they “cost” more than repeating the same old same old for you and the students. Perhaps some of the learning that happened is intangible; you set up and organized an experience that cannot guarantee a particular outcome. You may feel as though it bombed, but I’ll dare to suggest that the project’s value is yet to be realized. I look forward to further thoughts on #2 and #3, and here in Massachusetts, October went by in the blink of an eye!

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