23 January 2011

Why I Love Teaching

This is a long post, so before you start reading, grab some coffee and settle in, you are in for a treat.

Every now and then a student puts something on their blog and it reminds me of a reason I love to teach. This happened today when I read one of my students' posts. Its a good read, just for the sheer joy of reading. This girl is a great writer. Even though I doubt she'd mind, I did delete her name and substitute [student name] instead. I thought this needed to be read by a larger audience:
Hi, and welcome back to another episode ooooof...... What [student name] Learned This Week! (Confetti falls as the studio audience applauds and cheers) Nooooow here's your host! [student name]! (The audience gives out a deafening roar as they commence in a standing ovation; a warm welcome back for their beloved host!) Yes yes, welcome back! It's been FOREVER since I've written one of my critically acclaimed blog posts! And, frankly, I've really missed them. Not just because they are an easy grade (cough... cough), but because I like writing and these assignments... I don't know. They're just fun to me! Re-capping what I've learned in Physics class in a mile-long essay every week? SIGN ME UP! (Not kidding!) So, suffice all the theatrics to say, I'm glad to be back at the keyboard for another installment in my blog. BUT! That's not why you're here! You probably couldn't give much of a rip about the theatrics, so let's dive right into the real reason you're here: to read what I feel like I've accomplished this week in Physics. (An ever ENTHRALLING topic, if I do say so myself!)

The thing that really stood out as being really significant to me this week was how variable everything really is in any equation you use, especially a Physics equation. For example, Ft=m(symbol for delta here)v. (Or, rather F=m(delta)v/t) I find it utterly fascinating that just one variable can change the ENTIRE outcome of an equation! Like, if you give an object more mass, it has more force, or give it more velocity it has more mass, etcetera. And I'm not meaning this in a mathematical sense, but in the conceptual one, a single constant in an event can change whether that event has a positive and happy outcome, or one that's not all sunshine and rainbows, if you know what I mean. And that Physics can control such a HUGE factor in a teeny tiny variable is mind-boggling to me.

The things I did this week that helped me learn best included writing down things that weren't exactly outright specified to be written down. And what I mean by this very vague statement is taking notes on things that Mr. Bowie said, rather than just writing down what's put on the board or on the Power Point. Now I did not do the best job of this that I could've. I was a little spacey and sometimes when Mr. Bowie asks us if we have any questions (as per what USUALLY happens when he asks us this), I completely blank, even though I KNOW there are questions there somewhere, they just want to hide from me and make me feel completely idiotic when they come up a mere ten minutes later, but it's not question time anymore because class is over, but hey. Cut me some slack, I have ADHD. (Though that's not an excuse, I'm sticking with it, because it does cause me problems on occasion!) But this whole writing what you say instead of only what you write thing is a method I'm still perfecting the practice of, but I believe it's a method that will get me far in the future. (I hope, at least, it will or I'm going to kill my brother for telling me to do it.)

The things that hindered my learning this week included the confusion about the project weighing heavily on my poor little heart. Now, to be perfectly honest, whenever I hear the word "project" in any class, no matter what class it may be, my heart leaps with curious excitement, remembering the old projects I did in 4th grade in which we had to create a to-scale doll house with actual carpet, windows and a fully functioning electrical system (not kidding, I actually went to an elementary school where this was considered a normal every-day group project), but then it remembers, oh. This is high school. I won't be doing anything like that again, probably ever! Woo. So, then I always, ALWAYS, from the moment the word is spoken by the teacher (be it "project" or "paper" which, in high school are basically the same exact words) until the actual due date, I am constantly freaking out, somewhere in the back, middle or front of my mind, depending on the proximity of the project's due-ness and the difficulty of said project. And this one was particularly daunting to me, especially at first, since I am very much technologically illiterate on the most part. And when my teacher says that I'm going to have to create a wiki page, the whole of my being from my fore-head down is scared stiff. So of course this hindered my learning a tad in this class, since my mind was fully occupied by the thought of what I was going to do, how I was going to write it, and how the hecksicles I was going to build an entire web-page from scratch. But I think I may have the capability to do it..... at least I hope. I know one thing's for sure: it's pretty darn hard to focus on momentum when you're thinking about a project like that one.

I felt frustrated sometimes when math was involved. I. HATE. MATHMATICS. And NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING can change that. EVER. "Oh, but [student name]! It's the fundamental building blocks to figuring everything, especially science." No. Can't stand math. Can't. I'm sorry Mr. Bowie or whoever is reading this that may get offended or something, but I just hate math. Reading? Heck yes. Analyzing? Sure, I'm game. Complex Concepts? Cake. But math? Medieval torture. I always always always ALWAYS have and always will hate math forever and a day. Now, is that saying I can't do it? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Is that saying I won't do it? You think I'd risk my grade with such a personal loathing and opposing vendetta? Anyone who thinks that does not know me AT ALL. And I know it's a vital part for a lot of subjects, science in particular. So I do put up with it and even tolerate it on occasion. And I can do it, too. In case people don't know this and haven't told me this my whole life, I'm pretty darn smart. So I can do it. And I can knock it out of the park if I tried hard enough (which I usually do). I just prefer not to be bothered with it. But being in an applied math class, I kind of have to.

I was still curious about the whole, "sound is energy" thing. I know we only really talked about this for maybe three, four minutes? And it had NOTHING to do with, well maybe not NOTHING to do with, but very little to do with the subject matter we DID talk about this week, it really caught my attention. It almost kind of blew my mind. I mean, I knew sound was waves, but ENERGY? You hear that sound? That's the energy being transmitted through the air in a wave-like concentration and vibrating in your eardrums of my mind being sufficiently blown. So I'm pretty pumped for the chapter that we do over that, even though I still think it's a few sections away.

Well, I think this has been a fine welcome-back essay, wouldn't you say? This being the first in, I think, more than or almost a month and a half, I tried to make it a doosie and just let the creative writing juices flow! And I think at least it paid off. I certainly hope it did, otherwise I just wasted a good 45 minutes. I certainly hope that I didn't let the juices go overboard. You know how crazy they can be when you give them a keyboard, a cup or two of ice-cold milk and a page full of ideas and possibilities! So, I may have taken the length of this post  a little bit much, (compared to the length others' in my class....) but if I were judging it, I'd say it's a fairly decent welcome back. I just hope you think so too! That's all for this week, folks! Come back next week for another episode ooooof...... What [student name] Learned This Week! Until then, my friends, God bless. (Charming wink at the camera as the chipper lead-off music strums in the background and the host is once again met with thunderous applause and a standing ovation.) No, no, please! I don't deserve this! You're all too kind, thank you!