I had some cool math teaching moments last week. Here are two, one from each of my classes (Trigonometry and Algebra 2).
In Trig I’d been running around like a mad woman answering question after question and feeling like I was getting nowhere. So one day I said, “I’m staying here at the front of the room. If you have a question, come to me. If I’m already occupied with someone else, see if you can find someone in the class to answer your question.” The first person came up and, without thinking it, I put her question on the board while we talked about it. A couple more came up while the remarkable moment developed.
I was working with a single student, but as we progressed I could feel students in certain areas of the classroom growing quiet to listen in. They had apparently been struggling with the same problem and wanted their share of the help I was giving. Students who did not join us on that problem were, at that moment, all engaged in quiet group conversations about how to resolve their own questions. Cool, I thought.
For Algebra 2 I show up as a support teacher, meaning that I don’t set curriculum or plan lessons, but I work closely with students to reinforce the work of the lead teacher. Sometimes I really love that stuff. That day they were graphing inequalities on the number line. I began my work, encouraging students to describe their problems clearly, assess their own work, check their own answers. “Is that a true statement?” I asked 30 or so times. “Let’s test it,” I said probably 50. Cool, I thought.