Looking Back Helps You Realize What Matters

, , , , , | Learning | September 27, 2020



I’m an elementary school teacher. Today’s virtual assignment is to write about what you would do if you had a time machine. There’s the usual “I would go see the dinosaurs” and “I would go meet Rosa Parks” and “I would watch the moon landing.”

Then, I get stabbed in the heart.

Student: “I would go back in time and give George Floyd a real $20 bill.”

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Distance Learning Isn’t The Problem Here

, , , , , | Learning | September 25, 2020

Recently, I started student-teaching an early-level math class for online instruction due to the health crisis. I’ve seen difficult students in the past, but coming into this school really shocked me. Here are a few of the most memorable stories.

I assigned some math problems for the students to do for homework in their textbook. It was something like numbers 19-26 and 30-35. The next day, I came into school and checked all of the online submissions. About half of the class only completed 19, 26, 30, and 35 because apparently the dash in the middle means nothing! Then, after we went over the answers in class, which I specifically mentioned that the dash means that you have to do all of the numbers in between, several students submitted late work with the exact same problem.

During one of my classes, only one student showed up in the online classroom early or on time. Every other student was at least seven minutes late, if they even decided to show up at all. So, to reward the one student, we told him to only do the odd problems — half — of the homework assignment while everyone else had to complete all the problems. The next day, I checked this student’s work and he completed the evens.

This one takes the cake in my mind. I assigned ten questions for homework. The ten questions all fit on the first page of a PDF file. On the second page of the PDF were the exact same ten questions with the solution, written in red, directly underneath the problem. The goal was to get the students to show their work and then check their answers. An hour after the homework was given, I got an email:

“Hello, [My Name]: I see that we actually have twenty problems to do for homework and I’m wondering if we have to do them all. I’m really unsure if my answers are correct.”

This baffled me! This student actually had to go through the second page to count all of the problems in order to find out that there were twenty total questions in the PDF! During this time, she didn’t once realize that they were the exact same questions?! Or even that there were answers written in bright red?!

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Hopefully You Have Some Fava Beans And A Nice Chianti At Home

, , , , , | Learning | September 23, 2020

My history teacher is discussing the importance of farming in society.

Teacher: “What do you think you would do if all the grocery stores closed down?”

Without missing a beat:

Student: “Eat each other!”

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Time To Assay The Essay Situation, Part 11

, , , , | Learning | September 21, 2020

I was a terrible student and a huge baseball fan growing up.

In sixth grade I have an English teacher who knows I’m not dumb, just hard to motivate. She privately offers me an extra credit assignment.

Teacher: “All you have to do is write a two-page essay on any topic you like at all, explaining why you like it so much.”

I straight-up turned down her offer, being content with my C grade. So she flips it around on me and speaks to another student in the class:

Teacher: *Loudly* “Since you’re the biggest Red Sox fan in the class, you should write a two-page essay about the Red Sox and present it to the class.”

I practically jump out of my seat.

Me: “I am a way bigger Red Sox fan than he is and I should be the one writing that essay!”

 She let us both write one. She was a really good teacher.

Time To Assay The Essay Situation, Part 9
Time To Assay The Essay Situation, Part 8
Time To Assay The Essay Situation, Part 7

Time To Assay The Essay Situation, Part 6
Time To Assay The Essay Situation, Part 5

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Music Always Crosses Bridges

, , , , , , | Learning | September 20, 2020

I am a teaching assistant for students on the autism spectrum. I am assigned to one specific student. She is nonverbal, but she loves music, and part of our daily schedule is to sit in on one of the chorus rehearsals. She gets excited, stims by flapping her hands, and sometimes approaches soloists to hear their voices.

That summer, I spend some more time with her, including taking her out to the local mall for lunch and window-shopping. While we are eating lunch, she suddenly smiles and starts to stim. I look up and see one of the chorus students who has just graduated approaching.

Chorus Student: “Hi! I hope I’m not interrupting anything, but I wanted to say hello to [My Student].”

Me: “Well, I can tell she’s happy to see you.”

Chorus Student: “I’m glad she enjoyed our rehearsals! Even on the days when it felt like we weren’t making any progress, [My Student] was there smiling and having a good time. Knowing someone liked listening to us was really encouraging. It was great that she and her parents were able to attend the end-of-year concert.”

She talked to [My Student] for a few minutes before leaving, and [My Student] was delighted for the rest of the day. I am glad to this day that they both made a difference to each other.

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