Teacher Reflection 180: Day 6

When I walk into math class I feel like a(n) _______________.  fill in the blank with a type of animal

Explain why you feel like this animal.  What are some of your shared traits?

What animal do you think would be best for math class?

Explain why you think that.

I really enjoyed this reflection because it allowed students to talk to me about how they feel about math.  It provided them a way to express their feelings that felt safe and fun, but allowed them to be more specific about their feelings beyond “I hate Math” or “Math is boring.”  It also gave me information on what they feel is important in math, sometimes what they feel important in math is very far from the truth and typically I find that many students do not think they can achieve it.

Animals listed as current students:

  • Cat: Tries to cozy up to others to get help
  • Turtle: Slow and steady at math
  • Owl: Math comes easy
  • Hawk: Mind flies away on other things that interest him, usually many times during the class
  • Sloth: Slow, sluggish
  • Bear: Feels annoyed by others and wants to physically interact with them
  • Deer: Headlights?
  • Snail: Slow and small
  • Squirrel: Did someone say Nut?
  • Elephant: Feels huge in class, smart but not fast
  • Mouse: Small, quiet, unobserved
  • Gazelle: Quick, but not always going in the right direction

Many of my students feel slow and sluggish at math.  I usually find that their attitude towards math is because of their limited experiences in it.  They have many gaps, assume that the only goal is an answer, and don’t believe they need to explain their thinking at all.  Writing a sentence is out of the question- this isn’t language arts!

Right now I am working on transform that thinking.  It is a slow process, and right now students are a little frustrated that I am making them think instead of supplying them with answers.  They are surprised at what they can accomplish however, so they are really starting to get into the tasks I am assigning.  They are also a bit intrigued by the reflections I do in class.  They do not understand why I don’t ask for names on the papers (although I know by their writing who it is), and it seems to instil a confidence that they can be more honest and open in their writing than if there was one to be accountable for.

Animals listed as good math aspects:

  • Cheetah: Quick with precision
  • Horse: Swift and beautiful
  • Bear: Powerful, finds intelligent ways to overcome obstacles
  • Tiger: Quick and agile
  • Owl: Smart
  • Turtle: Slow and steady wins the race
  • Eagle: Sharp, quick reactions, fast processes
  • Hawk: Sharp, quick reactions, fast processes
  • Bunny: Cute and cuddly, but fast
  • Cougar: Quick for small bursts needed to solve problems
  • Wolf: Cunning
  • Lion: King of Math
  • Monkey: Playfully smart

Many students seem to think FAST is the main component to successful math.  I wonder where this comes from?  Many Students do want to be intelligent, they perceive that it will help to find ways to work through problems and get answers, although they don’t feel there is a need for any other attribute than speed.  I will try to be the way of the turtle, going slow and steady with them, showing them that working through a problem with understanding will allow them to be successful in math.  I am not putting grades on papers- I am noting what is wrong and asking students to examine their work to find their mistake.  This group is starting to slowly come around to that mindset.  It is early, and we will get there- we will all be successful turtles.

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