Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reflections on Chapter 4 of Never Work Harder Than Your Students

And another reason I love Twitter - we have a great book club on Monday nights!  We are presently reading Never Work Harder Than Your Students by Robyn Jackson and we discuss a chapter each Monday night at 9:30 pm EST (folllow #sbarbook on Twitter).  I have really enjoyed it so far.  It has had practical suggestions and is well written.  Also, I like how she has anticipated our common questions and where we would be resistant to some of her ideas.

The chapter we are discussing Monday is titled "Support Your Students" and it has to do with finding ways to help your students before they are failing and/or bored.  There were two parts of this chapter that really spoke to me.  The first was the section on setting up an intervention plan before students need it.  Jackson talks about setting up a concrete intervention plan that is triggered by something specific and with definite actions for each trigger.  Not all of the actions that are triggered have to involve meeting with you as the teacher - they could involve students working with online programs, for example.  This is something that really appeals to me.  I am specifically thinking of my (general) Algebra 2 students.  This is a course that, starting with the current freshman, students will need to graduate.  I want to make sure that they are successful in the course - especially since if students plan on heading to post-secondary schooling, the math that is involved in Algebra 2 is what they will need to know.  I am planning at this point to develop an intervention plan to have in place for the second nine weeks (which starts in 2 weeks) and pilot it in my Algebra 2 classes.  If that goes well, I may extend it to my Math 1 classes during the second half of the year.

Other thoughts as I read this chapter - I found that I am doing some good things as far as trying to uncover misconceptions.  This is something that I have done with my students the last few years in my lessons and I need to continue to do this in my classes.  I know I am not going a good job with questioning and I need to work on this.  I would also like to pursue things for the students who master concepts easily/early but I'm not sure what I am going to do.

The other section that really spoke to me in this chapter was about demystifying the process.  I think this is definitely something that is useful and I am just not sure how to do this effectly in mathematics.  I loved that Jackson gave a great example from her experience teaching English classes, but I am struggling with how we would do this in math class.  I'm not sure if I need to spell out directions step by step for them (which I already do to an extent) or if there is something else I need to be looking at.  I am definitely looking forward to our #sbarbook discussion Monday night to see what ideas my Twitter colleagues have on this point.

If you have not read Never Work Harder Than Your Students, I highly recommend it.  It has a lot of practical suggestions and is well written.  I think it is a great resource for any teacher - new or old.  And if you're on twitter, join us any Monday night.

1 comment:

Michelle Burton said...

My copy of the book should be arriving any day - I'm looking forward getting my hands on it after all the discussion on the #sbarbook discussion!