Friday, June 17, 2005

Bag of tricks - not about politics!

Just finished the first week's teaching. Every day is anew, though I am really excited because at least my older kids are definitely learning stuff. They beg for the easy square roots, which means they know what square roots are. Yippee. I am also learning I need a bag of tricks a mile long. To go back to my old D&D days in the mid-80s - I need a Bag of Holding, full of new ways to keep a 10 year old interested. On the one hand, discipline only works so far. Meaning the tough version where you get punished when acting up. You also have to have a million things to get them interested so that punishments and rewards are not necessary. One nice new thing the other teacher tried was having competitive teams go at it. That worked well for me with the older kids twice now. I tried it with the younger ones, and it was hit and miss. Some of the young ones just aren't that competitive. And then there are a million psychological things to deal with. Our youngest missed the only question for her team - largely because all the other kids were yelling things at her in an 11 year old's method of helping - and this made her so sad that she dropped out of the class and refused to do anything for half an hour. So you think, well I just can't put her on the spot very often, she is only 9 or 10. Fair enough. Then you have her brother in the other room, and he sits there whistling and making masks with his handout while his teammate answers everything. So basically, you call on someone, and they break down; you let them work as a team, and one of them doesn't do anything. Sigh.... It sure would help if they were all closer in age, but I remind myself of the old country schools where grades 1 - 12 would be in a single room together. It must be possible.

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