Thursday, October 5, 2017

Teach 180: Working with Individual Students (Day 25)

When I worked in a public school, I typically had 25-30 students per class and I taught 5 classes.  If a student struggled, I would want to work with him or her during a planning period. However,  that often didn't work due to the student being in class when I had my planning period.  This would require me to work with the student before school or after school.  With about 4-5 students per class needing help, you don't need to be a math teacher to see that this is just not sustainable.  But let's confirm this.  Here's the math. Working with 20 students for 15 minutes once a week was 5 hours of individual help.  If the students actually needed 30 minutes of help, that became 10 hours per week.  Arriving at school at 7:15 and leaving at 5:15 would have been necessary to accomplish 10 hours of helping students outside the school day.  With an hour long commute each way...well, you get the picture.  Definitely not sustainable.

I couldn't help students the way I knew worked best - individually.  So, I decided for the sake of sanity to change jobs.  Instead of teaching in a public school in New Jersey, I now teach at Moravian Academy, an independent school in Pennsylvania.  With 4 sections and only a total of 53 students, I have fewer students that need help and I have the time to help them individually.

For the past few days I have been working with one student in particular.  I can already see that this student is gaining confidence in his ability to do math and that student is starting to participate in class again.  Even better, this student has not said "I am stupid," when working on math this week.  Individual help for students matters.

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