Tuesday, July 12, 2005

My Next Post Will Be About Teaching Math

With school out, it's somewhat harder to come across educational items to write about. Politics has been kind of interesting lately, so I've had several posts from that field. Were it not mainly for union issues, education commentary here at Right On The Left Coast would be minimal lately.

I give my sacred vow that my next post will be a lengthy one about teaching math!

6 comments:

Ronnie said...

Hi Mr. Miller, it's Ronnie. I just finished my retaking of Pre-Calc yesterday and got an A easily in both the class and final. I really think summer school is the way to go for math.

One of my largest problems with your class, besides the extreme amount of absence, was the homework. I just won't do it if it isn't capable of being done in class. At the beginning of the year that worked out well, but soon after it started to fail. What's nice about my summer school class is we would just do 5 assignment in the 5 hours and then be done with it. That seemed to work better for me.

It was really interesting because both you and my summer school teacher skipped a few sections here and there but he skipped mostly different ones then you did. It's nice since I saw almost every single bit of Ch. 1-6.

I'm going to be a little critical here so don't be too upset, it's constructive. He was more lax on the rules then you were and it seemed to actually work to his benefit. Not only was it more comfortable, but it allowed people to take the class more of the way they wanted. This seemed to allow people to accomplish more and gave them the opportunity to do work the way they wanted.

I often noticed students studying up Chemistry for classes at AR or independent study. I happened to wear noiseless headphones, so not to disturb anyone, playing all kinds of music anytime he wasn't lecturing. This made it much less like 5 hours of math, and more like this actually isn't a bad way to start off my day. The fact was even with these so called distractions the class did extremely well with a mid to high B average on every test except one with a low B- and his test weren't extremely easy, they were like the ones in the book sometimes with an extra twist.

Also his homework assignments were more agreeable to me. He assigned maybe 1 or 2 from the very beginning part of the questions to check to make sure you know why something is the way it is, about the same number of exercise questions as you did, but the main difference was the Critical Thinking and Mixed Review, he only would assign maybe 2 each at most. I think you gave too many of those since they made you work extremely hard with only a few even attempting them and many times discouraged me from finishing the assignment.

We actually were allowed to use devil boxes and even the more dreaded graphical devil boxes, I know scary isn’t it. I was absolutely amazed at what they could do and how you could use them to check yourself. It's nice to be able to do everything by hand, and necessary to know how to in most situations, but my lack of knowledge on how to use a devil box to my advantage seemed to be quite a hindrance.

I don’t want to look stupid saying this, but you seem to take your job almost too seriously. I know education is important, but your strictness put quite a bit of unnecessary tension in your classroom, but in our class that might have been the only thing keeping the “AMS’s”, think hard about who caused trouble, from getting completely out of control. Well enough criticism, I’ve probably given you enough to dislike me like a Communist for awhile, just kidding, well at least I hope not; without your class I don't think I would have done as well at all since you taught the subject extremely well.

I thank you for what you taught me, and hope that you read this and think about what I say, people always have room for improvement, even the extremely perfect you.

P.S.
How’s your patent going by the way? And sorry for putting such a long post somewhere it doesn't really belong.

NYgirl said...

Trust me Ronnie, you will come to appreciate a teacher like Darren when it's time for you to take your SAT's & go to college. An overly strict teacher is prefferable to an overly lax one in the long run.

Darren, while I am not a teacher I posted an article about education in responce to a question from a teacher. I hope you get a chance to see it. I'd appreciate your opinion. Thanks, sorry for the shameless plug.

Edward said...

Ronnie,

Darren almost certainly wasn't giving you guys those trickier problems for his own amusement. You'll actually need to be able to do them if you want to be an engineer or whatever.

Darren said...

I'm not above listening to my students when they whine and snivel about how mean and strict I am and how I'm too hard and...whah!

Just kidding, Ronnie!

I look at what produces the best results given my own biases, beliefs, and strengths/weaknesses as a teacher, and conduct my class accordingly. Obviously, that environment isn't optimal for every student, nor could it be. It would be wonderful if students could choose their teachers based on what they've heard, what's on RateMyTeachers.com, and their own personal learning preferences. Unfortunately we either cannot or will not do that.

I could say a little something here about personal responsibility and the completion of assignments, but I think Ronnie (and everyone else who reads this blog) knows what I'd say!

Ronnie's a good troop. Perhaps I was not the ideal teacher for him--with upwards of 170 students, someone has to be in that category, and unfortunately it was him. Hopefully he learned enough from me in the 180 days of regular school to form a solid base for learning in an environment more adapted to his traits and personality.

But Ronnie, don't be afraid to offer constructive criticism. Teachers will hear such things and consider the source--and you are a source worth listening to.

And to NYGirl, don't be afraid of shameless plugs here, as long as they relate to the subject at hand. I'm sometimes guilty of that same tactic!

Anonymous said...

I just found this site. What a great find. I'm a high school math teacher in Texas who didn't know how great I had it!

Being in Texas education right now is exciting for conservative teachers and families:

*We've had Exit-level exams (required for graduation) for over 10 years. I had to pass mine 11 years ago! Recently we've added science and social studies tests to that. We also have promotion exams in the 3rd grade for reading. The 5th grade for reading and math and in 2 years, our 8th graders must pass a reading and math test to be promoted.

I just read how the AG of California is suing to stop your Exit-level tests because they're "not fair".

*Our current standardized test (TAKS)is a major overhaul from the previous test(TAAS). The questions require more critical thought and teachers and parents support that here.

*Our current sophomore class is the first class required to take Algebra II for graduation. Before, it was only required for the Advanced Diploma.

*Someone realized that a "blow-off" senior year right before college was a mistake. Seniors must now take challenging courses all year long.

*Summer school is exclusively for credit recovery, NO initial credit anymore.

*In 2 years I've never been asked to put in any elements of social justice or multiculturalism into my classroom.

*Texas is a right-to-work state so NO mandated union membership. NO union interference with reform.

*My school district recieved a grant from the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation to help us make our schools more rigorous and relevant.

*It's nice to know Texas (and any other state not on a coast)is pushing forward so easily when so many others seem stuck in neutral.

*Texas is a majority/minority state. Hispanics are our largest population. They're jumping on the higher standards bandwagon. They want to be held to the same standards as whites and asians.

*Charter schools are growing and school vouchers is a popular idea.

*Our governor mandated the 65% solution for all school districts when the legislature hesitated to do it.

*He also gave us merit pay.

Can't wait to read more from your site. Good luck with the good fight in CA!.

Darren said...

Anonymous, while that sounds great, the Texas Comptroller disagrees with you about certain points.

http://www.lonestarreport.org/newsWire/wws0512.PDF