Thoughts on Teaching

Foundation
Foundation

1. The goal: If the question, "When am I going to use this in my real life," derails your class, there's a problem with your purpose and goal. The truth is, almost nothing after taught 5th grade is knowledge used daily. The purpose of education is not to teach MLA formatting or how to factor a polynomial.

The goal is to develop a careful, thoughtful and resourceful young person that is adaptable, a problem solver and has perseverance. That's the destination. The particular subject serves as (1) the vehicle to arrive at the destination, and (2) an exploration into potential aptitude and interest, (3) as well as a foundation of reference knowledge.

2. Autonomy: When students understand they're in charge of education outcomes and find value and validation from their efforts, they'll perform.

In other words, when they do it for themselves and receive appropriate praise and feedback for progress, their potential and performance will increase.

3. Letting Go: Some kids aren't ready. I barely passed Algebra 1 as a freshman in HS...in fact, I'm sure that 60% final semester grade was rounded generously. Yet, I ended up with a BS in Math.

You, the teacher, cannot reach them all. Leave the door open, realize every misstep is a chance to teach them, but learning is done on their end, not ours.

If a kid fails, let them. Work with them to succeed, but hold firm to the standard. If you falter, and pass a student that didn't deserve it, the value of the accomplishments of other students will be discounted.

Why I'm sharing this is to color this short story:

The last three years I had 100% passing rate by all takers, not cherry picking, on IGCSE, around 10% passing rate in AZ. This year I'm pretty sure at least one student will fail. They earned the first F grade I have assigned in six years in that class.

That student just wasn't ready. At the end, the student came begging to get a passing grade. I explained to the student that while they were close to passing, to change their grade would be a grand insult...it would say that I did not believe they were capable of performing as well as their peers.

The next day the student approached me. I thought, ut oh, more grade grabbing negotiation...but to the student's credit, they just thanked me, said they're glad for the F and will do better in the future. No more crying, no hang-dog look...but instead a confidence because the student was capable and will be in the future. Perhaps now, the student is ready.

I don't want students to say, I only got through math because of you, Mr. Brown. That would make math the destination, not the vehicle. Best compliment a teacher can get is, you taught me to learn.

#REDforED – Arizona’s Working Poor – Arizona Educators United

In the year 2000, Arizona voters said that education was important the sustainability of Arizona’s economy and society.  They voted in Prop 301 which promised to keep teacher salaries competitive by providing cost of living increases and performance pay, among other things.  The state legislature has failed to exact the will of the voters and has instead acted on “their will.”

A lawsuit was filed to restore the missing funding for education and the state’s response was to propose Prop 123, which would borrow money from the land trust.  This was spun as a way to “pump money into education,” but in fact would settle the bill for $0.07 on the dollar owed to the state’s voters, in order to fulfill Prop 301.  The ruse worked and the proposition passed … but was ultimately determined illegal by a federal judge.

Now we find ourselves with a teacher shortage, one that threatens to be a true crisis.   The short version of the story is that teachers are making less take-home today than they were 5 years ago.  Adjusting for inflation, teachers made substantially more a decade ago, and more than that a decade before that!  Below is a short video that lays out the situation today:

To learn what the #REDforED movement is all about, here’s a short video, less than a minute long:

To get involved, here are a few links.

The first link is a nonprofit that I have started, which is why content here on The Bearded Math Man has slowed.  (We are pretty well up and running, and I have a big project ahead for BMM).
Arizona’s Working Poor

Arizona Educators United

Save Our Schools – Arizona

AZED101