Day 65b: The Day before Thanksgiving

Yes, I'm one of those teachers who gives a test the day before Thanksgiving. But, in my defense, the students are the ones who decided on the date.

So, instead of a typical #teach180 post, I'm going to reflect on this year so far.

I've had a great year so far teaching this class because of the students in this class. They are willing to ask questions. Most have no problem whiteboarding a problem they know they don't understand. They're willing to defend their position, even if everyone else in the class disagrees, and they only concede their point when given reasoning from the model to convince them. They work really hard and when they don't understand something, they realize it's just because they don't understand it yet. They've used their mathematical reasoning, scientific reasoning, and writing skills they've learned from other class and in other places and applied it to physics.

I couldn't ask for a better class. Even the worst of them are amazing. Even the ones who roll their eyes at my jokes or physics in general are logical, intelligent, kind human beings. Even the ones who loudly announce forty-five seconds later, as if it were new, something the rest of the class already understood are deep thinkers. Even the ones that feel like they are falling behind are still working and just feel they aren't there yet.

Yet this year, to me, is still shot through with failure on my part. One of the hardest things about teaching is realizing, every day, sometimes with just a few students, sometimes with all of them, you, as the teacher, didn't do what was best for the class.  Sometimes I find myself, most often unintentionally, guiding students in ways that won't help. Sometimes I realize too late that the way I approached the day was all wrong. I set up the experiment incorrectly. I used words that obscured, rather than clarified. I talked too much. I didn't given enough guidance. And yet, through a messy signal, I still have this class—really, all of my classes—filled with eager, thoughtful students. I give thanks for that.