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November 2, 2012 / Jeff d.

Today I Sucked

Today I sucked.

Learners were not collaborating – instead they were sitting in groups, but working alone.  I haven’t fostered collaboration well enough.

Learners were not taking risks – instead they were waiting to be told what to do, afraid to play around with the math.  I haven’t encouraged risk-taking or designed problems that are open enough.

Learners were not having mathematical discussions – instead they were asking each other (and me) “how to do it.”  I haven’t created an environment where learners are encouraged to converse in a mathematical fashion.

Learners were not taking pride in the quality of their work – instead they were doing it to get it done.  I haven’t created a situation that made them want or need their work to be high quality.

Some of this is probably my own perception; today is the last day of the quarter, so the thought that runs through my head is that we’re a quarter of the way through the year, so they should be starting to get it…right?

But some of this is reality.  I will reflect on my practices.  I will change some strategies.  I will implement some strategies that should have been in place from the start.  I will not give up on things that I know will work in the long run.  Today I sucked.  But Monday I will be better.

Update: I was better Monday.


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  1. crazedmummy / Nov 2 2012 9:12 pm

    Oh me too. Was it Friday? I resorted to leading kids through using software, because they would not follow the instructions they were given yesterday.
    So did they do it? No, it was one step forward followed by 3 steps back with kids who “didn’t understand” or “couldn’t follow along” or whatever. Because they were not working, they were sitting with earphones in, playing on youtube or facebook.
    I got mad. These are the same kids who are complaining that they are not passing the marking period. Duh!
    Next marking period, no sound turned on for their computers. I think I can do that. Facebook blocked. Just the one class.
    I am mean tonight! Good job there is build-it day for science olympiad tomorrow!

    • Jeff d. / Nov 3 2012 8:59 am

      I’m sorry that you had a bad day. It’s important to reflect on our practice in times like these. I don’t blame my learners because I can only control myself; so I’d probably caution against you changing rules for one class, which sounds like a technical solution to an adaptive problem. Good luck, I hope next week is better for you.

  2. Mr. Vaudrey / Nov 3 2012 12:47 pm

    The last line of that post is the most important one. Some days, we suck (I’ve had about a half-dozen in the last few weeks). Just like we tell our students: the important part in failing is trying again. Keep it up, dude!

  3. Mike Kaechele / Nov 3 2012 6:06 pm

    Honest reflection is important for us and students both. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Betsy / Nov 4 2012 2:43 pm

    I love all your “I will…” statements. You will NOT be defined by this day, but move forward. Awesome post!

  5. Lesa Haney / Nov 4 2012 2:45 pm

    I applaud your level of reflection. Remember FAIL = first attempt in learning. I cannot wait to hear how Monday goes.

  6. hadleyjf / Nov 4 2012 3:00 pm

    This rang so true to me! There are just those days when I know that my lesson just didn’t do what I had imagined, or when I just hadn’t thought it through enough. could. You see yourself and your practice, as well as your students, so clearly. You will definitely have a better Monday for seeing Friday so clearly! Thanks for sharing. It makes it easier to walk this road with others who are honest! Here is my post about a similar experience:

  7. theresa / Nov 4 2012 5:38 pm

    Honest reflection in a public place…refreshing! I’m right with Betsy on this one!

    • Jeff d. / Nov 9 2012 7:36 pm

      Thanks Theresa (and everyone else). This topic seems to resonate with many people, so it’s nice to know I’m not alone. Some days just don’t go the way we want, but if wasn’t a struggle then we probably wouldn’t be doing it. Plus I feel like I learn so much more on those days than the ones that go well (although the smooth days are certainly more enjoyable in the moment!).

  8. Jeremy / Nov 4 2012 9:54 pm

    We all feel that way. Thanks for your honesty. Reflection is the key to improvement. I have had those days where the more time I spent planning the worse it seemed to go. I guess we can all be better tomorrow if that’s what we choose.

  9. Kevin Gant / Nov 7 2012 12:06 pm

    Jeff, great to find this blog. Drew Schrader alerted me to it.

    About your day, here’s my guess: you probably sucked much less than you think, particularly in the eyes of students. Here is what I notice about my own work, and about that of my students: collaboration isn’t always easy. Sometimes it requires energy input, and thus creates fatigue. There are times when I just need to sit down, be quiet, and do my own thing, even though there might be others with whom I could collaborate. My students have expressed the same thing to me about their own work. If your class is one where there is frequent collaboration, I wonder if the day you write about was actually somewhat of a welcome respite.

    • Jeff d. / Nov 9 2012 7:29 pm

      Thanks for the comment Kevin. I think your suggestion holds some merit…we certainly collaborate frequently (read: almost exclusively), but as the year goes on we will be building in some performance assessments that will be completed individually. I hope these would serve as a respites as well. Thanks again.


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