This school year has been a bit weird. I scaled back my duties yet I still have a lot of work to do outside of school. What gives? Well, each of my preps has presented some interesting challenges.

College Algebra

By far the class I underestimated the most. Not from a material point of view, but how the students would consume it. Turns out, whole group instruction doesn't really work here, I could blab all I want and some percentage is still going to need an individual explanation. In January, I started catering to that need. The challenge has been creating material that offers students a script they can follow and leaves me opportunities to have a conceptual discussion with them. I do not want it to devolve into a "do this, ok great, moving on" kind of thing. I want to retain the discussion aspect and that is requiring a lot of energy, as I have the same conversation 4 times in a class period. Pacing is still weird, many finishing assignments quickly, others taking their time (distracting themselves has started to play a part in this).

But on the plus side, the group in general is understanding new concepts, I'm probably saving time by cutting out the note taking, and it keeps the atmosphere really casual. Everyone still gets tons of time to work and enough face time with me than they can stand.

Calculus AB

Though we are slowly turning a corner, there's a lot of work to do here. I'm using yet another assessment system, and employ Desmos for benchmarks. Until we reach some future performance nirvana, I'm going to keep tweaking my approach in this course. Despite missing all that time at the beginning of the year and then another two days for ice, I think we're in a good place. It's that magical time of year when all the concepts finally start to make sense and you can discuss free response questions without major headaches. In a couple weeks I'll see if I was able to grow my exam participation (last year was 50%).

Calculus BC

We've entered uncharted water. We cruised through the AB material with little problem and now we have to tackle the material that's unique for them. It feels like we have eons of time to get ready. Since the class is small and they're all doing great, there isn't same benchmark mechanic necessary here, they're all taking the exam. As much as it pained me, I decided to bite the bullet and jump into sequences and series now before it starts to feel like we're running out of time. It is my weakest content area, so there's been a lot of studying and restudying and restudying to try and make sure I have it all straight. I knew it was going to be a rough period. But slowly, the light at the end approaches.

Common Theme

What's the problem really then? I have to make TONS of stuff. College Algebra is loosely based on my last attempts at Algebra 2 but the "no talking" structure of the class has really made me rethink a lot of things. Pacing still throws me. Calculus BC is all new territory as I relearn the material myself AND come up with ways to teach it. Calc AB is the one comfort zone, I know what I need to do, but there's still a lot of retooling required.

One day I will take a summer and write some kind of definitive practice book I can use throughout the school year, but that day has yet to come.


AuthorJonathan Claydon