Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Piece of Cake Upside Down

I recently re-watched one of the few good math movies made - 'Stand and Deliver.' I showed it to my students and they were (surprisingly) interested in it and loved it. Some of them learned shortcuts to their 9 times tables and a new way to think about positive and negative numbers. I, on the other hand, watched it from a new point of view.
I haven't watched this movie since I've become a teacher. Previously, I watched it from a student's perspective and purely for entertainment value. Now, as a teacher, I realize there is some deeper content here. There are some things wrong with the clip above. The claim that their students cannot learn because of where they live or because of their status is bogus. Mr. Escalante gets it right when he says 'students will rise to meet your expectations.' I think there are a good amount of teachers out there that don't fully believe this; they think kids will be kids and there's nothing that can be done to help them. They are who they are and there are all kinds of excuses for the teachers not to teach them. Escalante owns up to his responsibility, says he could do more, and he follows through with it. After watching this again, I began thinking about my classroom. Do I set a high level of expectation for my students, and continue that expectation throughout the semester, or do I eventually cater to their level? Can I get them to do more for me and for themselves in order to help them realize their true potential? Is there a way for me to give them the ganas they need to be successful not only in my class, but in their lives? If I answer in the negative to any of these questions, what can I do to change? I plan on seriously reconsidering my first week of class and my management techniques to empower my students with ganas. Yes, I teach math. Yes, its an uphill battle before they even walk in the door on the first day because of that. Yes, stereotypes say that I am a boring nerd. I don't think that I can settle for any of that and I don't want my students to either. I need to find a way to change their opinions, change their mindset, and change their opinion of their ability level. I need to gain their trust from day one and show them that they are capable of whatever they put their mind to. I feel I do this to a point with some students, but not as many as I'd like. I also realize that this is a Hollywood interpretation to a true story, but there is a lot to be said for it. I could go on and on...

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