Because of my schedule, a reassessment (of ideas from the first exam), and a Professional Day at the school on Friday, I only was able to go to school on Wednesday this week.
On Wednesday, I led the Task: Multiplicative Comparison that I had prepared. I worked with small groups of 3, rather than full groups of 5 or 6. Unfortunately, I saw them during the Hands-On center rather than during Teacher Time (which is normally when I will do a task). Hands-On center time is usually when students choose (or are given) a math game to play with each other, so the students I chose to work with were anxious to finish and play a game. Paradoxically, that made it difficult to focus on the questions and we took 15 minutes each time. In the future for a task like this one, I would try to make the task more like a game, only work with one or two students, or request to work with only two groups of two students each across the whole centers time.
Something that I noticed, about which I can sympathize with undergraduate student teachers, is that I see how busy the class always is and how my teacher has organized it to run smoothly and I don’t want to disrupt that. I could have asked for the extra time with one group of students (as I wrote above) – I was aware I would need it – but I chickened out because I wanted the task to support the teacher and students in their current context. It was difficult to ask even for half of a group rather than a whole group.
Another, somewhat unrelated observation, is that some students have asked me to call them by nicknames (e.g., “Peanut Butter Sandwich,” “Pretty, pretty princess,” “J.J.,” and “Renaldo” or “The Great Renaldo”). Partly, they suggested the nicknames because I was learning their names, and partly because I think they feel special. I think it’s fun, but I have noticed some students ask me, “Why do they have nicknames?” I try to answer: “They asked me if I would use that name.” But I can see that it privileges some students over others – even though each student could ask, there are only some students that will ask. Some students would like to have a nickname, but will not ask for it. Some students would like to have a nickname, but will not ask for it. Other students don’t care one way or the other. I’m not sure how to make that “fair” other than to let them know I’m happy to call them nicknames if they’d like one!