Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Amazing Graduate Class

Every teacher I know can recall that one class of students that just seemed to get it, the one class of first graders or sixth grade students that gelled together as a learning community; the tenth grade AP English class that celebrated Shakespeare as never before or the 9th grade Math class that could not stop viewing Vi Hart videos.

My never-to-forget class was the last fourth grade class I taught in the UK before emigrating; that was, until I met the students in my graduate class this semester. There were 13 of them in the class and were, to a person, dedicated to making sense of the K - 8 math curriculum. They actively sought out understanding by holding each other accountable in their groups during class activities. They reveled in each other's successes and aha moments which frequently only occurred as a result of deep and frequently painful introspection.

I think the whole semester is summed up in the comment of one student who said "Now I know what I know instead of what I don't know". "To understand" is my mantra and to hear a student say that they finally understand something after 20 years of not knowing why is the best thing I could ever hear from one of my students. Even one of the math majors in the class celebrated finally understanding something that had frustrated her for years.

The photo? I have to admit it's one of my favorites; taken on the Durham railway station in northern England. I like to wonder if the person or people who painted the sign worried about how to write the fact that the arrow points the way to platforms 1, 2, and 3. I wonder if they saw the double entendre in the use of the word "to". Did they request a decision from someone in the higher echelons of British Rail or did they not even notice it since that's the way they wrote all signs like this? Noticing things like this is why I love maths.

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