With her students facing so many pandemic challenges, Michelle Russell decided to say ‘yes’ to as many requests as possible, whether it was late papers, school supplies, or a quick review minutes before a test. Here’s what she’s discovered about the value of answering YES.
Author: Michelle Russell
How schools are handling standardized tests this pandemic year has really varied. Michelle Russell spent eight school days prepping students for her state’s math accountability exam, which they took last week. What paid off? What didn’t? Was it worth the time and effort?
Michelle Russell loves teaching statistics and her students enjoy it too. But it took her a few years to find activities that really engage them and that also reinforce the statistics standards they need to learn. Here are three ideas she recommends for the middle grades.
On her first day back Michelle Russell surveyed her students, looking for ways to improve her online teaching and – most of all – to find out how they’re doing in these difficult times. Some of their answers surprised her, and she’ll be more aware and proactive going forward.
Michelle Russell’s math students depend on her to be cheerful and happy in these difficult times. That can be a challenge, she admits, “but having some new (or not so new) activities to try gets me excited and energized to come to work. I figure that’s good for everybody!”
With at least half her math students learning virtually, Michelle Russell found it necessary to slow down and focus on critical standards. To her surprise, both her quarantined kids and her face-to-face students are learning and retaining more by going at a slower pace.
After learning virtually for some weeks, many of Michelle Russell’s math students got in the habit of writing down little or no evidence of how they reached their conclusions. Which got her thinking. “What does it really mean when you tell students to show their work?”
With all of her math students learning online at least some of the time, Michelle Russell has struggled to “get it right.” Her six lessons learned so far include: Don’t assume they know technology basics. Mix firmness with compassion. Grow their self-sufficiency. Yours?
Michelle Russell has found the first 10 days of teaching her hybrid classes even more exhausting than her first year in the classroom. But she’s learning fast how to help her math students adjust to a new reality – and to find the time and support she needs to prosper.
When Michelle Russell dropped by her classroom last week, she was overcome with emotion. As her school year ends, she reflects on the depth of her gratitude for that room, her colleagues, her students and their families, her newfound clarity, and teaching itself.