The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 29 2012

Students at Work, Everyone Smiling

Day 56: This post is essentially the inverse of my last post. Yesterday was about most things being fine, but an altercation with one student being the clear focus of the day. Well, that relationship didn’t get any better today; she clicked her pen over and over during silent time to bug me, and refused to shake my hand at the end of the day.

However: Everything else went so well, I’m going to do the extremely logical thing and focus on that for a change. Today was the first day of the unit-ending project for our topographic maps unit; my kids will be writing letters to a local bike store explaining why the bike store should sell topographic maps. Last night, I went to a local bike store and talked an employee into letting me film him pretending to know nothing about topographic maps. My kids thought it was so funny, they asked to watch it twice.

More importantly, nearly all of my kids connected the project to our core value of leadership. They understood and articulated that the project connected to our goal of science, which is using our knowledge to help others. I then got to watch two of my classes be totally on task as they pored over the criteria for success, and evaluated a sample letter to find such mistakes as “topografic” and “as u can c on the map.”

The one class that didn’t have that lesson was my tricky class, with the infamous JR in 6B. After a crummy first class back from break, they nailed it today. Everyone on task during a gallery walk. The vice principal had to borrow JR for a while, and she was furious upon her return … and I was a little frustrated, because she’d had a rare strong start before leaving. And yet even she was able to pull it together and do the gallery walk while her class was doing their ticket-to-go.

Above all, though, today was the kind of day that made me happy for positive culture. I write this post from Washington DC, where I and about 10 other TFA science teachers have come to talk to lawmakers about TFA and science education. When I told my kids why I’d be missing school tomorrow, two spontaneously gave me “props” with their hands. Two of my kids, un-provoked by any teacher as far as I can tell, made an announcement at the end of the day wishing me luck. And when I ran upstairs to say goodbye to some students staying after school, the typically quiet HD in 6A ran over, dropped to her knees and yelled, “Don’t go!” She then admonished me to sit in coach, where if the plane crashed, I’d have at least a 40 percent chance of survival. Weird, but well intentioned, I suppose.

All in all, a very good day. The kind of day when students learned, but there was plenty of smiling and laughing, too. Lots to be happy about in Room 105.

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Experimental Procedures of a Second-Year Teacher

Greater Boston
Middle School

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