Vito Prosciutto: Teaching community college math on the road to a PhD.

Friday, February 27, 2004

The inner lives of students 

I've gotten so far behind on my journaling with my week of being sick (feeling better, by the way, but still not 100%), that I almost forgot some of the more interesting items of the week (and also a good reason for why I write this anonymously: To protect my identity, but also my students' identity).

I have two students in my morning Algebra classes who are apparently going through a fair amount of inner turmoil in their lives. One showed up about 30 minutes late to class yesterday, in tears, asking for a pass to see her counselor. I wrote her one immediately. I wasn't able to understand what she said was the problem, but apparently it was sufficient on her return to class today for me to ask her if things were better for her today. When I see her in the hallways she looks genuinely pleased to see me. Sometimes it only takes a little bit of effort to build trust.

The other student has been absent the whole week. On the attendence report we receive from the main office she came back with an attendence code my mentor had never seen before: It turns out it stood for "runaway". The report is that she's been recovered, but she wasn't back in class today. I would never have guessed that this girl would be in that situation, and I hope that I can do whatever small thing is necessary to build trust with her.

On the flip side, one of my geometry students seems to have decided that I don't like her and has been rather openly resistant to my teaching. I'm not sure how to manage this. I'm pretty careful to make sure that I treat all of my students fairly, but I can see how a student who doesn't bring her homework to class could come to the incorrect conclusion that my exhortations to bring homework would be an indication that I was picking on her. I'm thinking perhaps that next week, I'll try and catch her before she flees the room at the end of the day to talk with her briefly.

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