Monday, January 7, 2008

Mathy New Year!

The first day back at school after a long two-week holiday break is always a bit difficult for students and teachers alike. Most knowledge learned, or at least exposed to, prior to the break has been dormant in students' minds, as they have resorted to staying up late, sleeping in late, perhaps working to earn some cash, drinking coffee with friends at 3 in the afternoon, and playing the occasional video game. In other words, they are a bit "rusty" when they get back to the classroom.

Some teachers, too, need a little time to get back into the full swing of assigning homework. Even I needed a good thirty seconds at the start of first period this morning to get my mathematical bearings after my two week hiatus for mathemagicland. I think it took my students a bit longer to adjust, as most were in disbelief that I was able to pick up exactly where I left of in 2007. I know they were hoping for a more gentle transition back into the academic environment, perhaps a nice discussion on what they did over the break or a comparison of cool Christmas gifts or unusual New Year's resolutions, but in my class they don't really expect it.

In fact, the only New Year's Resolution that was announced was my own proclamation of my efforts to move more quickly through mathematical content and to talk more rapidly during class. Although that's not what I resolved to do (I really intend on assigning more homework, especially from sections I haven't yet covered-MUHAAAWAAAAHAAA), it was fun to see the reaction on the students' faces when I announced it and began talking faster than the guy on the old Micro-Machine commercials.

After I got the reaction I wanted, I plugged away at the math, reviewing the concepts we covered prior to the break (knowing that NOT doing this would be more counter-productive than proceeding with new material), and even eventually got to a point where I actually asked about cool Christmas gifts (my excuse to tell everyone about my cool Xbox 360 my son got from me.) One student was excited to say that he got three games from his parents for the Nintendo Wii System, but he doesn't have a Wii System, nor did they get him one. I shared that I once got a Compact Disc from my parents without having or getting a CD player. I spent a week spinning the disc on my finger and listening carefully for music before I realized the problem. Although it was entirely fictitious, it related well to the student's predicament, and we all got a good laugh at this as we wrote down the next math problem from the board.

So tomorrow, being the second day back from our break, I hope the students will be back in full academic form as we hit the ground fast and hard in the game of public education, where Milk break, Recess, Nap time, and Movie Day are an archaic thing of the past (and possibly the present and future for some.) In my case, the math does not teach itself, and for me, that's job security.

Mathy New Year!

1 comment:

Brenda said...


Sorry I never showed up for running again. It's a bad time for me, and I've been doing aerobics at the gym. But I hope all is well on the track!

It doesn't surprise me that you probably assigned tons of homework on the first day back, but I can't picture you talking faster. I hope you have a great semester - I'm ready to go back to school!