Saturday, December 11, 2010

What I've learned after a year of teaching

The end of the semester is coming to a close, and I have officially taught for a year!  There are a few things I've learned while teaching College Algebra...

  1. When introducing variation problems, avoid using the letter d as a variable.  You may say something like, "So, when you double d..." which will be followed by a short gasp from you and snickers from the front row.
  2. Say things as many times as humanly possible--written verification is just not enough.  For example, on the test I gave on Wednesday, I had--in bold letters on the very top of the test--"OUR FINAL IS ON THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16, 5:30-7:30 PM, IN SLAGLE 305."  As one girl turned in her test, she asked, "Can you tell me when our final is?"
  3. When teaching inverse functions, avoid the ordered pair (a, b).  Because when you say, "Ok, if (a, b) is a point on the graph of our original function, what point do we know is on the graph of the inverse function?"  you'll realize all too late that the answer is (b, a), and you'll suddenly wish you would have chosen any other letter comination in the world.
  4. Don't take yourself too seriously.
  5. Be very mindful to pronounce the f in the word shifts when dealing with transformations.
  6. When a student says, "This is probably a stupid question," it probably really is a stupid question (i.e., you probably just spent the last thirty minutes explaining what the student is asking and he or she just slept through it all).  You can pretend like it's not though.
All in all, I've had a great time teaching these kids some algebra.  I even have a student who hated math coming into the course, tell me she really likes it now!  YES!  Given, most of this is due to her own perseverance in the course, but I like to take some of the credit myself.  I've also had a student thank me for being a teacher that she can come and talk to.  I say these things not to brag.  But because now I have them in writing, so when the going gets tough (which it will), I can remember why I'm doing what I'm doing.  And you may have to remind me every now and then.

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