Last night, I was getting restless knowing that I would have to wake up and teach my first lesson ever from the role of a “math teacher.” Knowing that there were others praying and supporting me at church helped me to stay confident and just think about what I needed to get done. I kept getting this feeling that I should be preparing more but the more I looked at my lesson plan the more I felt confident in teaching the material … perhaps I was a bit too confident =).
I woke up this morning and went through my usual Tuesday routine: ate a small breakfast while still trying to wake myself up before proceeding to rush to the high school before 6:30 AM. In talking with the teacher, I quickly found out that I assumed too much: I actually had more control of this lesson than I thought. Beyond teaching it, I now had to go through problems for math assignments, think about how I would manage the commotion in the classroom, and handle any questions on the independent time at the end. And all of this was because the teacher said, “I have to go after about 20 minutes into the class so I’ll be hands-off with your lesson.” Oh great. I wasn’t quite sure how it’s possible to give someone who hasn’t yet gotten the accreditation that much control of the classroom but that was the least of my worries at this point =). I would entertain the issue of bringing teachers without experience into a tough environment at a later time …
Before I had a chance to realize it, class rang and I said the following sentence that I never though I would ever hear come out of my mouth:
“Good morning class! My name is Mr. [my name] and I will be teaching math to a group of future group of students much like yourselves.”
Didn’t have time to stand there and savor that moment since I had to keep going =). I started to go through my “hook” for getting the students’ attention. The irony is I tried using an Economics concept as an attention-getter in a Calculus class (and I probably won’t do it again haha). After that I began to get into my lesson on limits and then I quickly noticed a lot of glazed eyes, restlessness, and even an “I’m so confused.” I was just asking what the limit was of the function x^2 when x approaches 0! Because of that, the first thought was “Wow this was probably my easiest example and they’re confused, I’m not sure what to do at this point. Should I ask for help?” Amazed how contentedness can turn to fear and resignation so quickly!
This is when I decided to go off-lesson. Let’s make sure they remember their Algebra and Algebra II. Pretty soon as the class went on and I walked through more examples, I start seeing the relief turn into confidence turn into “CALCULUS IS EASY.” If I had some more time, I would try to temper that expectation! The independent time to work on homework flew by and it gave me a chance to truly appreciate the negative and positive quotes …
“Where did you get that 4 from? Yeah I don’t think this is going to go well at all”
“I’m too confused. What are you writing on the board right now?”
“Ohhhh that’s where he got that … Dang this stuff is easier than that Pre-calculus stuff”
“Why is Precalculus harder than Calculus. Calculus is EASY!”
“Can you come over here and help me? Oh wait, never mind I got it.”
Of course I don’t know as of yet if they really “got it” but for now, I was reminded of some obvious things.
- I’m teaching students who are seeing these concepts for the first time ever in many cases. It’s going to take some time and attention.
- It never hurts to spend extra time planning for classroom events that happen and logistics. It definitely does hurt to under-plan =).
- Planning is good but ultimately success is determined by your students’ success. Sometimes that involves re-tooling your lesson.
- Time spent with an individual student is as valuable as time spent teaching the class.
- If I am successful at teaching, I will have so many people to thank along the way =)
All-in-all this was memorable. I’m looking forward to teaching my next lesson down South!