Algebarf

Man, today wanted to walk out of class today.

I scan the room and kids look at me blankly, eyes glazed over, like frozen fish on Tuesdays melting on ice.

There are so many things rushing through my mind.

“Fine, if you guys aren’t going to pay attention, I’ll just start over.”  (But I don’t want math and repetition to be a punishment.)

“Guys, this is important!”  (For what?  I don’t remember.)

“So um, oh wait, woops, let me change this variable and that variable because….” (As I backtrack because I didn’t fully prep, and wasn’t prepared..)

There’s a lot I could complain about.  I began to go through all my lists of issues as I helplessly stared at my equally helpless students.  How come the books are so old?  How come the book exercises don’t match the test exercises?  How come even though the objective is to teach, “Recognizing problems with no solutions,” the book randomly inserts mixture problems that the kids haven’t learned yet so that in the middle of my “recognizing problems with no solutions,” I’m teaching them that you can’t just do x+(15-x) but in order to represent 15 dimes and nickels that add up to a value of $1.15 you also must multiple the # of the object by the value of the object?  And I’m winging this because when I skimmed through the practice problems, I didn’t realize how weird they would be.

While they’re doing this, I’m worried because I know translating equations was hard for them.  They can solve multi-step problems for a single variable, but God forbid going through the same process with variables only.  Then the next day I taught Rate-Time-Distance and after that I taught area word problems that required binomial multiplication and pi.

It’s rank.  One objective a day.  Zoom through.  Finish before April.  Finish before April.  Finish before April.  Teach math processes.  Teach math processes.  Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I’m not skilled enough to figure out what standards encompass others.  Or how to build.  Or how to apply.  Or open their minds up to excitement about this.  It’s discouraging because I loved Algebra… and I don’t want them to see math as a punishment or as a roadblock.  

In addition to getting mad at the book though, I get so mad at my students.  It feels like they don’t even try.  They just stare.  They don’t keep up with notes.  When I’m speaking they’re looking down/writing.  When I’m walking around the room to help them with a problem, they haven’t even begun.  It makes me so mad.  And everyone’s in a subdued or bad mood by lunch.  Then after lunch, I try to sneak in more math.  I try to get them started on homework so I can supervise and help.  And then I realize 3 out of the first 5 kids I helped had issues with the same problem.  So then, I call all kids to attention to go over it.  And before you know it, I cut into all my history, and we barely have time to review for science before I pass out tests. 

And how well would they do on a science test when they’re pressed for time, and they feel discouraged from math, and they know that I’m in a bad mood?

 

What to do.  One teacher told me, it’s September 9th.  The kids are still just.. getting used to school.  And it will get better and they’ll look back, and some will even begin liking these problems.

 

Also, today was the first day of school for a new student.  Welcome.

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