Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Day 2

Today was slightly different in the sense that the students seem to know who I am and what I'm there for. Yesterday's nerves etc disappeared, and strangely something else was missing today. I don't really know how I felt in the morning but it felt like a 'job' so to speak. I'm probably the only person from my friends who doesn't work in the holidays (I have my reasons!), and so I'm not sure whether that's a good idea anymore. Don't get me wrong- I enjoyed today, but working implies that you have be more responsible. I have to behave in a 'grown up' manner during this placement! Yes I did talk to the teachers and then I was me, but to the students I couldn't be 'me'. Well had to be careful and be wary of what was said- by myself especially! Does that sound weird? It's so... formal(?) at times. I think being at college and university I had forgotten about the environment of a school. University is completely different, and college (sixth form) was to a certain extent different as well. Maybe I'm feeling this way since I'm no longer the one who is sat asking the questions. It's not me whose trying to catch the teachers eye in such a way that no one else knows I'm stuck, but the teacher clicks on. Yesterday it was 'euphoria', today it was a realisation. I don't want to grow 'old' and ever work 'formally'. :( It seems alien to me- I'm in the middle of 'growing up' and being a kid!

Hmmm, I know that growing up and being responsible is inevitable, but one hopes that one can delay that for as long as possible. With me, if I'm given a certain responsibility it does earth my feet to a certain extent, since as one of my college teacher once said to me, 'with great responsibility comes great power'. Yes, indeed when I've been given a position as such, I respond to it. (In school FB told me that when I was given a certain responsibility in school it 'calmed' me down to a certain extent. This was in year 10 and I think what was meant was that I'd grown slightly 'maturer' (ahhhh)). Why do I fear such things? I won't deny that each day, when faced with a different situation, we all grow in some way. I'm can be a 'controlled' bouncy person now (well that's when I've not eaten apples, bananas, played football, banged my head against the wall or some other wacky thing like got the right answer or understood something in maths!) i.e rarely! Gah- something doesn't feel right. Maybe it's because I had to sit outside in the garden, in the cold, reading a book and kicking the ball about whilst I waited for someone to come home! (I don't like carrying the house keys and no one was at home!) I still can't explain what was missing- I think maybe I'm feeling this way because I'm tired and was tired throughout the day, wanting to not concentrate on anything. (I was awful and a couple of yawns escaped me- well until I had to come home that is!!)

\begin{EDIT}: It seems that I'm missing the good old days. :o Honestly, I seem to remember my time at secondary school like it was yesterday, having only spent two days at this school! The memory of being chased by a year 11 because I took the mick out of Beckham (I'm a Cantona fan) springs to mind. It was all in good nature, but I did slip due to the wet floor and got up in double time. The year 11 student didn't have the heart/legs to chase me, so I guess it's a good thing being 'bouncy' (elastic!!). :D Whatever you may read about my thoughts of today in this post is probably due to this 'nostalgia'- tiredness was a lame excuse. Secondary school has got to be one of the best experiences in my life, and ... sigh... someone get me a bucket! Dare I say that I wish I was back at secondary school with my friends? Throwing paper balls at each other (rather childishly) as soon as the Physics teacher turned around! :D The teachers, the environment and what that school gave me are some of the things that I miss. I recall some people being glad to be shot of that place (most people that is!), but thankfully I wasn't one of them. I'll probably be like this when I do work experience at a college! This is the reason for the bitter-sweet taste in my mouth. Was that another sigh that escaped me? \end{EDIT}

I started the day being in a year 8 set 1 class. Let me tell you this- it was completely different to yesterday. The class had to get on with an exercise I believe, and at first the teacher didn't realise that I was doing 'maths work shadowing'. It was assumed that I was just doing work experience since there is someone else at the school doing that as well. I haven't got a timetable- it's decided every morning and the teacher hadn't been aware of this. So I sat at the back with a table again- always the back BTW! I think the teacher realised that I may know a little maths when I spotted the very look that I mentioned above in a student's eyes and responded! They were doing fractions addition and subtraction (mixed or improper ones). One student had been doing the wrong question, but thankfully I managed to realise what was going on (equivalent fractions). The one thing that I don't want to do is give them the wrong information! Having done this I returned to my chair.

The difference in this class was that they all got on with the work.Yes, they had a chatter here and there but they couldn't care less that I was there (thankfully!). I just sat their twiddling my thumbs and hoping that someone would be stuck or require assistance! They naturally asked their teacher and so I did a lot of sitting. Actually I did talk to the table next to me and it was quite ... funny? Well two students were being very lazy and it seems, after my enquiring, that they find maths boring! Don't worry, I didn't take this to heart but told them that it'll get interesting later. Still they worked at extra slow pace and if one had done more questions, the other would most likely copy. In the end I told them that they should see who can finish first. One of them still didn't care, but the other was getting into the work. They had to add something like \frac{1}{8}+\frac{7}{14} (well the denominators were like that). One of them had done this by writing the equivalent form with denominator 112 (by multiplying 8 and 14). This was ok, but then the other student went and copied this. I was feeling 'evil' and told her to find another denominator. She was very lazy indeed, and eventually we got that 56 was the lowest common multiple of 8 and 14. I told the other student that if this was boring, hurrying up meant they could do question 3 and 4 which were much more interesting. (Well they required thinking and not just working the answers out.)

During the lesson nothing eventful happened, and I got talking to the teacher. She had graduated from Salford University and even had a PhD. In what I can't remember, but it was maths and something else (was something about modelling). She thought I was a year 10 student. :o That was quite embarrassing since I'm seven not 15! I quickly corrected her and it was then that she realised that I'm doing maths and want to go into teaching.We had a nice discussion on mathematical modelling!

The next lesson was maths with year 9 and set 1 (I think). This was a .... weird lesson. I think in this class the students pushed the buttons, and although the teacher did shout and what not, I felt he was fighting a losing battle. :( I was lucky to sit with a 'nice' table at the back again, since the louder personalities of the class were on the other side. (I really should consider changing my name from beans to chicken little :D). The lesson was about recurring decimals and fractions, and to begin with the answers to a previous exercise were discussed. A member of my table, say Lennie, wasn't too impressed with this topic and wasn't liking it. Lennie actually seemed to really like maths, and so we got on. I think it's going around that I want to be a maths teacher, since the other group did keep on making references to me 'ask the new maths teacher' etc without really meaning to do so. Others who weren't aware asked me whether I was at college, finishing my GCSEs, going to work at the school(!) etc. Having said that I've completed my first year (hopefully!) at university, they were 'shocked'. Well, initially they did wonder why the heck I was at their school but the group I was with were OK.

So I had a look at Lennie's book and didn't really know what the problem was. Lennie seemed to be able to answer the question but didn't really know 'who, what, where, when?' was happening! He wanted to know to know why a certain something had been done etc. and asked me whether or not I could explain this. I said to Lennie to wait for the teacher to stop discussing the answers and then I'll have a look. The previous questions had basically been computing 1/9 on a calculator, and then 2/9 and then 3/9.... (Then 1/11 etc). Now obviously in situations like this the whole argument of 0.9999999...=1 arises. Most students were saying that it's not possible. Lennie was growing frustrated... impatient for me to explain. The teacher did explain this 'phenomena' and I'm guilty of slightly 'zoning out'. (I was thinking how I would do this in my defence!). However I believe that the teacher used the following argument to convince the students:

\\\displaystyle\frac{1}{9} = 0.\dot{1}\\[1ex] \displaystyle\frac{2}{9} = 0.\dot{2}\\ \vdots \indent \vdots \quad \vdots\\ \displaystyle\frac{9}{9}= 0.\dot{9}\\[1ex]

i.e. the number on the numerator is the one that tends to recur. Well I think that was general idea that was being broadcast and Lennie did go 'ahh'. Then they were told to do question 4- converting recurring decimals to fractions in simplest form.

A question was 0.\dot{4}\dot{5}. I'm not sure whether they were expected to 'recognise' the answer, but Lennie and his two friends were stuck. I asked one for a paper first and quickly jotted down what I'd normally do (had to check!). This is what I had jotted down:

Having convinced myself that I hadn't made an error(!) I then proceeded to guide Lennie and his pals through what I had done, and they all u

Lennie seemed to really like this way, but I was hesitant about them doing the questions this way since the teacher might have told them some other way! (He had told them a 'trick' I believe i.e. 0.0\dot{9}=0.\dot{9} \times 10^{-1} and then they could recognise the answer). Lennie and pals were keen to skip the steps out but I persuaded him not to since if the teacher was to mark his work then he could hopefully follow what's being done. However then I came across this question: 0.0\dot{5}\dot{4}, and I was stumped. :( Sorry for being dumb, but how would you do this using the above 'method'? Don't worry, I have done this question using the geometric series concept (talk about complicating something!), and got the right answer but they aren't to know of that. I tried doing 100x, but then I get x=\frac{5.4}{99}=\frac{3}{55}, is that good enough for them? (I'm not liking the decimal for some reason).

So that lesson ended on a somewhat good note. Lennie is my new friend... I mean mathmo friend. I didn't manage to chat to this teacher, but I'll probably bump into him again sometime. On the way out I happened to see SG coming out of the other maths class, proudly bragging about getting detention! That kid makes me laugh- yesterday I wondered whether I saw an ickle bit of myself in SG, but I don't think so. SG is from a different crowd altogether!

Once again at break time I found myself talking to another teacher and I was told that it's really important what you say in class and how you say it. We basically discussed teaching, and we were of the belief that students could probably murder (note-hyperbole!) their teachers, but still nothing would happen. That is a sad state of affairs indeed, where respect for teachers is 'exponentially'(!) decreasing. That is what is putting me off being a secondary school teacher and making me lean towards college. College maths seems to be 'better' as well but I'm not sure to be honest. I mentioned that many maths teachers at schools don't tend to have maths degrees but probably physics etc (hope that wasn't false, since I recall reading it in blogistan!), The teacher was of the opinion that why would someone with a maths degree go into teaching when the pay is extremely poor. I argued that 20K was ok, but I was told for the amount of work teachers have to do that is indeed poor. Thankfully I'm not really motivated my money, so that doesn't bother me too much. (I wouldn't mind just studying...)

My problem is that during the lessons I sometimes imagine myself being up there doing things differently. However when I realise what I'd been thinking, the horror kicks in! I'm not yet 'confident' on the whole teacher issue. It scares me to imagine myself being at the front, with all eyes on me. Watching my every movement, taking note of my every word (well unless they're dozing). So although I want to be a teacher, I don't think I'll ever be able to be one at this moment. It's just so... scary? I'm definitely lacking confidence, and today as I was given some worksheets to cut by a maths teacher, yesterdays history teacher (MA), thought I was preparing a lesson! I recoiled in horror and replied heck no. I think MA does all the career co-ordination in the school and said that if I'd gone to her for work shadowing then for the first lesson she would have made me go to the front and teach! Come to think of it, that is a good plan and tactic, since all I can do now is sit back and think of the horrors of teaching. However, once in that situation your flight hormone is hopefully released! Although I'll mess up pretty badly I'll at least start getting the experience which will hopefully make me slightly more confident about the whole thing. That being said I'm not prepared to actually 'teach', and so she suggested that I ask the maths teacher if I could do the last five minutes or first five minutes instead (they have a lesson plan scheme thing!). At the moment I'm not going to do that, but I'll see how the week progresses and what the teacher who I report to makes of things.

The last lesson was with the same set 4 of year 7 that I was with yesterday. I like this class. One student especially makes me laugh. The teacher had just started to write the equation on the board and the hand shot up straight away! The question hadn't even been written down! This happened on more that one occasion, and I couldn't help but laugh. It was a good lesson, and I think using flow diagrams really helps to understand how to understand how to solve equations. (I recall having a horrid time with these! I used to do some weird stuff, and it was ultimately these flow diagrams that helped me):

\\x\stackrel{\times 2}{\rightarrow}\stackrel{+4}{\rightarrow}18\\ 7\stackrel{\div 2}{\leftarrow}\stackrel{-4}{\leftarrow}18\\ \text{i.e } x=7,\text{ in the equation }2x+4=18

All in all it was a good day, and I believe it is tiredness which resulted in me being slightly out of it. Hmmm, I'm good at making excuses (some times) but on this occasion I'm having a Eureka moment! I even mentioned the paradox, 'this sentence is false' to some students and had then going 'eh'. (Kerching). Tomorrow is going to be fun, because I won't be going to sleep at two or three in the morning! (This is tiring though- especially since I'd got myself into the 'holiday' mood.)

I'll end on the note that MA called me a maths freak today. :D The happiest day of my life.... honestly!


steve said...

The common factor of those LaTeX images which have gone wrong is that the HTML includes id=SPELLING_ERROR_n for some integer n. Are you using a spellcheck? That could be why it has interfered with the images.

beans said...

Having just checked the html code of the post, I just spotted that a minute ago and I've just been going through the post and deleting them words! I think that must have been what intially caused problems in my post on truth tables. Thanks. :)

(Yes, I tend to spell check my post before posting it, but I think I should spell check it first and then add the LaTeX images.)

beans said...

Phew- the messy stuff on the side has dissapeared now! How did you guess about the HTML code being: < span class=" error="" id="SPELLING_ERROR_4" / > (wow!).

I think I should also ease of using \displaystyle all the time!

steve said...

How did you guess about the HTML code

I looked at the source (IE View, Source; Firefox, VIew, Page Source). Better still, in Firefox if you highlight some text and then right-click and View Selection Source you see the HTML highlighted for just that bit. IE7 has a similar add-on which allows you to select text, right-click and View Partial Source. It's very useful.

Jake said...

The teacher was of the opinion that why would someone with a maths degree go into teaching when the pay is extremely poor. I argued that 20K was ok, but I was told for the amount of work teachers have to do that is indeed poor.

I disagree.

i) £20,000 is a very competetive starting salary. I don't know what type of jobs teachers refer to when they state that their pay is too low. In fact, depending on where you look - £20,000 is often touted as an average starting salary for so-called 'graduate jobs'

ii) As a teacher gets more experience, their pay and benefits will increase including separate pay-scales for positions of increasing responsibility.

iii) As with many public sector workers - teachers get great pensions.

iv) Although teachers work through the holidays, they still get a lot more than the statutory 20 days annual leave and more holidays then.

v) I don't see that teachers do much more work then people in other equivalently paid white collar private sector jobs.

beans said...

Steve: You should've said that you've got cool mental powers! (I can't spell the word 'sy-kick' :o and Google's not helping!)

It is pretty useful since I can now read over LaTeX codes used on other peoples blogs now!

Jake:I don't really have a thing for money, and so I don't how much a 'lot' is. It's not just that teacher who thinks that, but quite a lot of people have been saying that 20k for teachers is poor. :/ Like you say, that's a lot of money!

I think they compare the wages to probably what doctors, pharmacists etc earn. One teacher said that the only holidays which are actually like a holiday are the six week aftermterm ends. During easter holidays and the rest they're all marking coursework etc. (This was when I said that the holidays are one reason to be a teacher!) I suppose the 'marking load' is different for a maths teacher comparted to an English or History teacher.

Teachings not exactly really 9-5 at times. I don't really care about the money, but for maths graduates maybe the prospect of earning more money at say an accounting firm is more desirable? (A few people doing a maths degree say this!) I think that teacher may have exageratted slightly. Meh- one day I'll have to 'keep tabs on things'!

steve said...


beans said...

Thanks again. :o

(I thought it negan like physics, whereas it's more like psychology! That makes me feel dumb indeed written down. It's been a long day, and well I said the word 'jamp' today and the English teacher pounced on it!)

Did I mention it was a long day? :o

Jake said...

a lot of people have been saying that 20k for teachers is poor.

I just think that they are being extremely unrealistic.

I think they compare the wages to probably what doctors earn.

I don't think that that is a fair comparison... it is a lot harder to qualify as a doctor then as a teacher for one thing.

One teacher said that the only holidays which are actually like a holiday are the six week aftermterm ends. During easter holidays and the rest they're all marking coursework etc.

That is a lot more holiday then most people get. Even if they don't have proper holidays during Easter etc. at least the workload presumably tapers off for a bit.

but for maths graduates maybe the prospect of earning more money at say an accounting firm is more desirable? (A few people doing a maths degree say this!)

I don't think that the incentive to be a teacher shouldn't neccesarily be a financial one. I imagine that getting into accountancy is quite competetive and I also imagine that the pay would vary fairly substantially depending on where and for what type of company one worked for.

The main thrust of my point is that I think that teachers earn a decent enough salary to live a pretty comfortable middle-class life and that there salary is fairly equivalent to many other typical private sector so called 'graduate jobs'.

I think that if anyone deserved a pay rise, it would be nurses before teachers.
Being realistic

beans said...

Something 'weird' happened today! I happened to bump into one of my primary school teachers today (who no longer teaches!) and all she said to me was NOT to teach!

Many teachers who teach seem to be echoing the same thing. Makes me wonder why they're teaching if they may not be enjoying it! I don't know... although some teachers have been saying positive things to me (like I'll hopefully be an 'ok' teacher) a majority don't.

(I don't know who deserves a pay rise, but 20k at the moment is definitely a lot!)