The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 13 2013

No Theme, No Problem

Day 114: When I started writing every day about teaching, each day seemed to have a theme. Holding students to high expectations. Feeling disheartened. Students proving to me just how impressive they can be. And so on.

Lately, in looking back over what I’ve written, this seems to be the case less and less often. Today, that feels very much the case.

First period was fine; I usually teach 6A first period, and they often look and sound like zombies. Today was no exception. Second period was an unusual 6D class. They are the class I can usually count on for child-like energy and enthusiasm. Except today, they were so lethargic that the nervous simulation sounded like a bunch of mumbling, and no amount of goading and incenting and performing from me could change that.

6C, on the other hand, was shockingly on its game. Aside from some stumbling at the end, I got a solid 45 minutes of on-task behavior out of them, including particularly strong efforts from AM (who appears to hate me significantly less) and EC (whose new tracker appears to be working marvelously). And finally, 6B was loads of fun. They were the most into the stimulus-response mini-labs, and were so on-task that I felt free to walk around and smack desks with a meterstick, asking constantly, “So, what was the stimulus?” Yes, I was the off-task kid last period.

So, no theme. But, for the sake of this having some point, I can see some serious good in the lack of theme. When I look hard for a theme, it can feel like I’m working too hard to make everything make sense. This is exhausting. Today, some things went well, and some things did not. The fact that I can say that, shrug, smile a little and say I did OK today, then head home to listen to country music and relax … Well, that might just mean I’m figuring out how to teach in a slightly-less-than-all-consuming fashion.

When I started writing every day about teaching, each day seemed to have a theme. Holding students to high expectations. Feeling disheartened. Students proving to me just how impressive they can be. And so on.

Lately, in looking back over what I’ve written, this seems to be the case less and less often. Today, that feels very much the case.

First period was fine; I usually teach 6A first period, and they often look and sound like zombies. Today was no exception. Second period was an unusual 6D class. They are the class I can usually count on for child-like energy and enthusiasm. Except today, they were so lethargic that the nervous simulation sounded like a bunch of mumbling, and no amount of goading and incenting and performing from me could change that.

6C, on the other hand, was shockingly on its game. Aside from some stumbling at the end, I got a solid 45 minutes of on-task behavior out of them, including particularly strong efforts from AM (who appears to hate me significantly less) and EC (whose new tracker appears to be working marvelously). And finally, 6B was loads of fun. They were the most into the stimulus-response mini-labs, and were so on-task that I felt free to walk around and smack desks with a meterstick, asking constantly, “So, what was the stimulus?” Yes, I was the off-task kid last period.

So, no theme. But, for the sake of this having some point, I can see some serious good in the lack of theme. When I look hard for a theme, it can feel like I’m working too hard to make everything make sense. This is exhausting. Today, some things went well, and some things did not. The fact that I can say that, shrug, smile a little and say I did OK today, then head home to listen to country music and relax … Well, that might just mean I’m figuring out how to teach in a slightly-less-than-all-consuming fashion.

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