Whenever I read math teaching blogs, Twitter, or whatever else on the internet, I find awesome ideas. Ways to integrate technology and digital media into the classroom, great activities, techniques for promoting understanding, great open-ended tasks. So much more. It’s really awesome, I love it, and I try to communicate what knowledge I have.
I have a student who, about several times in the last two weeks, was taking apart his pencil instead of (insert math I asked him to do here). Today, he was playing with his watch. Other times, it seems like he’s trying hard to look engaged, but he’s producing little to nothing intellectually. One time, on a sheet of 5 word problems I asked him to try, he circled the numbers and underlined the questions — neatly, but slowly — on all five questions. Turned out he had no idea what to do on any of them, and had no interest in getting my help. He is often very engaged in doodling on the wrong page of a handout. He does his homework every night, although the quality is pretty low.
It doesn’t seem helpful to sit here and complain about him. I want him to learn math, and while I’ve tried tutoring, individual check-ins, and phone calls, I’ve been unsuccessful, and he’s not the only one. How can I help him? I mean, obviously, he’s unique, but so is everything else that teachers experience in their classrooms — there must be some language or set of tools that can be shared to transfer knowledge on this topic.
Why aren’t more of these conversations happening?
Are they harder to have than conversations about the best task to teach linear equations? Why?
Are there effective, transferable teaching strategies for students like this one that aren’t being shared? What are they?