Monday, August 25, 2008

Weak Two

You ever have one of those days when you just can't seem to get traction?

Today began early, and pleasantly enough. I had a nice walk under cover of slate gray skies, the sun's rise obscured by a feathery blanket of cloud. It was muggy, but comforting.

I'm trying to figure out where my Abstract folks are right now: this morning had me meeting with several of them about the committee problems that were due in class today. A few of them seemed a little overwhelmed, but in class most seemed on the ball. My hunch is that at this point what we're doing doesn't seem relevant, since we're developing skills and techniques, not results that are important per se. Moreover, with the scant background we've developed so far, it's difficult to see how what we're doing fits together with the overall thrust of the course. Once we start doing congruence arithmetic (which we're poised to start discussing on Friday), things will start to come together. In particular, I'll be able to point at congruence classes and say "See? See?!!? Groups!"

From this morning's Abstract section (I'm sorry I was a bit sluggish, y'all...I had a too-short weekend, too!) I went back to the office and took care of a number of bureaucratic tasks...those damned things pop up like whack-a-mole moles at a second-rate funplex. I was busy enough to not even notice the clock inch towards 1:45.

I felt out of sorts in Precalc, too. I think what threw me off at first was my continued frustration over the software. I'm sorry, y'all, that registering on Educo is such a pain. I promise you, I promise you, that once you're all in the lane and plugging away on-line, things will go a bit more smoothly.

My stutter-step start to that class continued, and I felt a half-beat behind for the whole hour. I think part of it's due to my sub-par preparation...I realized about halfway into one of the exercises I'd prepared (describing the interval defined by |x+6|<3) that I hadn't completely prepared a description of the algebraic solution to the problem. That oversight's due in part to my unfamiliarity with teaching this material (again, and again and again: first time doing this, folks!), but part is also due to my abhorrence of "plug 'n' chug" explanations.

Me: "You'll wanna do it this way because if you remember, what the absolute value |a-b| represents is the distance between a and b..."

Not me: "Why do this computation? Because it works, that's why."


I need to find a middle ground.

Happily, I've noted a couple of students who are very attentive, diligent, and responsive to my efforts...they're clearly engaged in class and give great non-verbal feedback as I'm teaching. By watching them I can tell if I seem to be getting through. My thanks to you!

I have to say that I enjoyed my second section of Abstract today, overly large as the section may be. Although there were a few people who I sensed were having difficulties with Euclid's Algorithm, I think most were picking it up, judging from the alacrity with which they offered to share their computations with the class at large.

My grades for the day: Abstract: B+; Precalc: B-; Overall: B.


I'll be ready for Wednesday, folks. You can count on it. Thanks for your patience with me.

Now, off to bowl!

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