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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Too Fast

The lesson was too fast again. Why? I felt the rush to get through the material for the upcoming test--a test that teachers and students are rated on. For the teacher, to be rated well means that there's less pressure and greater ability to teach in ways you believe in, and to be rated not so well means lots of pressure, oversight, advice, and management. Hence if the students do well, I can continue to craft meaningful lessons and learning opportunities that extend from traditional paper/pencil work. I want that autonomy because I know that kind of learning is engaging, enriching, and encouraging.

So I chose to teach with speed for a few lessons so that most students with be familiar with the words and concepts. Soon the test will be past and I'll be able to go back to more meaningful, deep, and engaging teaching. When this happens I'll especially reach out to those who didn't like the push, the ones who felt a bit overwhelmed by the too-fast pace. I'm looking forward to that change. I've shared this rationale with the students.

The teaching/learning arena is filled with decision after decision as teachers reach to meet mandates, students, goals, and vision. We want to do well by our students, but we also need to fulfill the expectations set, expectations that often outweigh the hours in a day.

Also there are some that like the fast paced lesson, the quick review, and the ability to refresh before taking a test. That kind of review provides them with what they need in order to show off what they know in a standardized test format. The year's teaching will never be one size fits all, instead it will include a series of differently focused efforts--some fast like the past few days and some rich, deep, and engaging like the month of exploration to come, a month that will be led by Boaler's research and work in Mathematical Mindsets.