August 5, 2010

Giving up?

Filed under: Standard Based Grading — Adam Glesser @ 10:32 am

I can’t find the words to help you all see
Every story I tells makes sense only to me
I can’t give you reasons to learn what I teach
Why should you practice all that I preach?
It’s bothersome, I know, to sit through my blather
Your life is complete, without me, I gather
No need to make jokes or listen halfway
Just forget I was here, as I slink away.

So, sometimes I think I really know what I’m doing; then class starts. Did I mention yet how much respect I’m gaining for high school teachers this summer? I always thought I respected them; I always thought they had a hard job; I always thought they were underpaid, overworked, under-appreciated,  over-controlled, underrated and overwhelmed. Hah! I had no idea. Frankly, I still have no idea. I’m teaching one class of twenty high school students for seventy-five minutes, twice per week. I don’t know anything close to what you high school teachers go through, but I’m sure now it isn’t as easy as teaching college students.

It’ s been a rough go this summer. The administration recently asked that I require homework to be completed. Naturally, I balked and, to their credit, they listened to my arguments and, I think, even bought into some of them. They still want me to require homework to be submitted, but they are not insisting that I assess it. I told them that I doubt it will have the desired affect (to ease the load on the student mentors who try to convince the students to do their work) and that the disinterested students will, at best, do just enough to avoid getting in trouble. Probably, the administrators know I’m right, but they’re in a rough situation: they aren’t in charge of all the details of the program, but their necks are on the line if things go bad.

On the plus side, the grades are going up. Under my old system, most of the students would be failing and there would be no way for them to catch up. Their recent high scores would be outweighed by weeks of low scores. Now, as they finally are starting to get how to calculate the slope of a line or to complete the square, their past ignorance is forgotten. They are happy; I am happy. They know something they didn’t know; I know they know something they didn’t know.  It’s a win-win and that is pretty cool.

So, no. I guess I’m not giving up. It’s only math, baby!

P.S. To the loyal reader who periodically writes me personally: Please post your wonderfully insightful remarks in the comments section for all to read. To answer only one of your questions: No, I hadn’t considered taking a writing class. Do you intend your question to suggest that I need to?



  1. As a high school math teacher, I approve of this message. 😉

    Comment by CalcDave — August 5, 2010 @ 10:52 am | Reply

  2. […] I want to talk about my high school class (you remember, it is the one that drove me to write that self-serving melodramatic structured paragraph with a rhyming pattern that passes for poetry in my warped mind). Anyway, I showed up today without a quiz. I gave them a […]

    Pingback by The Final « GL(s,R) — August 12, 2010 @ 7:19 pm | Reply

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