Thursday, May 26, 2005

lessons learned as a geometry teacher...

the beach bum

So, school officially ended today. Next year, I'll only have half the teaching load, as I roll into a new position of "Director of College Planning and Placement."

What follows are some things I learned as a Geometry teacher these past 2 1/2 years...

--Almost nobody walks into my class thinking "Yippee! I love learning Geometry!"

--There are, in fact, students who actually enjoy the type of logical thinking used in doing proofs. But there are not very many of them.

--Very few math teachers think "Hey, I want to teach Geometry!"

--In the words of one of my graduate school professors, "Homework very important!"

--It's a good thing for Geometry teachers to have some artistic skill.

--I have none. (I already knew this, of course, but it was revealed on an almost-daily basis as I sought to draw various geometric shapes.)

--The line "Humor is not funny if you have to explain it" also applies in my classroom. To wit, "A drawing is not that helpful if you have to explain what it is that you've drawn."

--The meaning behind the name of ancient Indian chief SOHCAHTOA.

--The significance of the sentence "Oh Hallelujah! Another Hour of Algebra!"

--That most students prefer the version that substitutes the place of eternal damnation of souls for "hallelujah"

--Not only can I not draw those figures, very few students can do so either.

--Almost nobody remembers the difference between a theorem, a postulate, and a corollary

--Students understand triangles pretty well, though none like them very much.

--Ditto circles.

--Students frequently lose the subtle, elegant differences between a parallelogram, a rectangle, a square, and a rhombus.

--Logic is a good thing. In virtually all of life.

--Geometry is useful in many places outside of the Geometry classroom. I dare you to plan a trip without using any Geometric principles.

--If a student is disinclined toward 2-column proofs, it does not help very much to introduce flow proofs and indirect proofs into the mix.

--Nobody likes spherical geometry unless they are fairly odd. Like me.

And the most important thing I learned teaching Geometry?

Teaching Geometry offers an excellent opportunity to connect with and befriend (and maybe even influence!) students. I'm already looking forward to drinking coffee with some of my "beach bum alums" this summer. I'm also looking forward to them dropping by my office to say hello next year. And I'm very excited about connecting with each individually as the new "Director of College Planning and Placement." Beyond that, I am so eagerly anticipating what the Lord has in store for my young friends' lives.

To my students, you are loved much. Way more than I can say. Regardless of how well you did (or didn't do) in Geometry class.

So, have a wonderful summer. And remember that there's a short, 4-eyed, extremely handsome athlete/joker wannabe who is crazy about you and is honored to have been part of your educational process. (Even if you did not particularly enjoy that part of the educational process!)

the beach bum

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