Monday, September 29, 2008

Welcome Back Korpi

Wow! What a day back at school. Shortly after I arrived at 6:50am in order to assess what the substitute had done during my absence, I was greeted by my first student seeking mathematical knowledge. Soon, one became two. Two became four. Four became eight. My classroom began filling exponentially, literally, not just in the casual sense that almost ALL non-initiates use to describe ALL things that grow rapidly.

My plan for catching up on paperwork quickly was put on hold. In one sense, I was a little worried that I might have to finish all my paperwork tonight at home, putting me further behind, but in the other sense, I was delighted that so many students felt compelled to welcome me back to school in person an hour and a half before school even began--rather oxymoronic. Anyway, the "party" was forming all around my teacher's desk, with students fanned out along the perimeter of the desk in a radius that extended nearly three students deep. "How is your knee doing Mr. Korpi I don't understand this!!!" came the polite but distressed cries. I listened carefully for a sign of where to put the punctuation mark in their comments, listening to the tone and inflection in their voices, but to no avail; their niceties were slurred along with their conscientious pleas for help.

I'll admit that it was ambitious of me to expect 110 students teach themselves all about discontinuities of functions and the entirely foreign concept of the "limit" via a printed, albeit energetically written, packet of notes. Throw in the use of the calculator in a novel way and the fact that the examples are designed to keep them on their toes, and you've got an explanation for the throngs of students assembling in my room this morning.

Not only am I thoroughly convinced, however, that if left to their own devices, these great students would eventually figure it out, but I'm equally impressed that so many of these students are NOT content with NOT knowing, or finding out later, but instead, take it upon themselves to seek out the help they need. Never before have I had such a "thirsty" core of students who are so motivated and diligent in the face of uncertainty, apprehention, and frustration. These are great qualities to have and exercise. If I was an outsider looking in at myself, I would think that I planned the lesson to be one not only in mathematical concepts, but in perseverence and assiduousness.

Those who came in this morning were rewarded with the serentity that comes both from at last understanding the concepts and from knowing that they weren't going to have to turn in the assignment afterall. Those who didn't come in either thoroughly understood the information (GREAT!!) or were perhaps simply content with not knowing, hoping to pick up the info here, there, and in between. Everyone, though, did get the entire lesson live in class later that day. As is usually the case, those who had invested more prior to the lesson got so much more out of it.

Kudos to all. Tomorrow, more limits and discontinuities. Until then, it's time for me to ice and elevate my knee. Man, Does it smart!

1 comment:

LaurenC said...

I'm glad you made it through the day. I bet you are worn out. Isn't it wonderful that you finally have a 'thirsty' class once again? Congratulations.