Thursday, December 11, 2014

Classroom Management

Going into the process, I worried most about handling a large group of kids at once.  I've never done anything exactly like this before and my closest experience would be teaching math one on one to my sons. As you'd guess there is not much of a relationship between individual tutoring and a group setting. Talking in front of larger groups always makes me nervous and its not something I necessarily look forward to.  The first meeting was stressful.  I prepared as much as I could. I had an agenda and materials printed out. I read as many other math circle diaries and descriptions as I could. I planned strategies for what to do if things didn't work out or the kids found the sample problems too hard.  Nevertheless, I was full of adrenalin and utterly exhausted by the end. The good news is that it its becoming easier over time.  For one thing, I'm starting to know the kids and how they react. I don't have to guess as much at leveling etc. Here's a list of my findings so far:

1. Always try to break things up with games. They tend to bring out the quieter kids and generally activate the room.

2. Get the kids to explain their problems. My goal is to talk as little as possible and let the kids drive as much of the conversation.

3. Give them time to work on things. My instinct is to jump to a conclusion. I'm working on letting the process unfold in its own time.

4. Call on the kids rather than just letting them raise hands. I'd have four kids or so who'd dominate the room if I didn't actively try to get the others to speak.

Things I'm still contemplating.

1. Assigned seating. As you might predict I typically end up with two large tables. The boys on the right and the girls on the left. My thinking is that this is a club not school and its probably fine to let this be but I might experiment in the future with asking everyone to sit next to someone they don't usually sit by.

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