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viernes, 24 de enero de 2014

The three basic rules of my classroom

Second part of How tiny is the atom will come next week. I just haven't finished grading a question I made them that was related to the subject (grading one of the many #joysofteaching....NOT!)

This week's post will be smaller, I had a crazy week but I wanted to share this with you :)

People have different skills, I can't draw even if my life depended on it, while there's people that find math really really difficult. I can accept that, I can accept that not everyone os going to find chemistry easy but there's a difference with struggling and something really different saying I can't. (I shouldn't be saying "I can't draw even if my life depended on it" for example)

Taking a group in the middle of the semester meant they were kind of used to another teacher, his/her rules, way of working, etc. Everyone told me I had to be very firm or they'd eat me alive (That will be a subject for another post) and that I should state clear rules from the very beginning. So yeah I talked about discipline, late homework, how much value everything was going to have. etc.

But the first day of class I dedicated it to three basic rules:

1) It's OK to ask questions - Any question as long it has to do with the subject we are studying in class (The only time I broke this rule was to talk about diets and eating disorders but I have a classroom full of 15 year old girls if they were asking I couldn't say no ! It's a very very very important subject) I don't mind explaining the same thing over and over or if the ask what does this have to do with my life. If asking questions means they are interested and paying attention BRING IT ON !

2) THERE ARE NO STUPID QUESTIONS - Ok yes there are... and over the last months I have heard a few... but they are 15 year olds, they are not supposed to know chemistry, not supposed to know how this thing really works and I'm not supposed to think their questions are stupid becuase they are kids, they are learning, they are growing. If they don't ask stupid questions now they'll never do. That's why I treat all questions with the same importance, respect and that's why I do my best to answer all the questions the best way possible.

3) You can't make fun of your classmates - This is very dear to me... I've been bullied all my life so I know how it feels and at least in my watch is not going to happen. If I see you making fun of one of your classmates specially because of a question they asked then you are kind of death to me and you lose your chance of doind the monthly exam. Bullying is no joke.

My students are not beakers, not experiments, they are people and being used to spend 12 hours a day in the lab makes it difficult not to see them as experiments, but THEY HAVE FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS AND THEY CAN BE WONDERFUL.

The hardest realization I've had this months is that I'm part of their formative stage. I'm not only teaching them chemistry, whatever I say can affect the way they see themselves or the world. The responsability is quite big. so my biggest lesson so far STUDENTS ARE NOT BEAKERS, so if I them fixing it will not as easy as purchasing a new one.

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