Week 12 – Teacherless Classrooms & Internal Teacher Dialogue

Week 12 – Teacherless Classrooms & Internal Teacher Dialogue

It’s the end of week 12.  I sort of wanted to do another video reflection blog but feel I didn’t have enough footage to make it super interesting – other footage is much more interesting than just looking at me talk for five minutes.  I really enjoyed putting the last two together though so I think I’m going to pick a day in the near future to do a ‘day in the life of’ vlog (being inspired by Casey Neistat and Shay Carl) and give a glimpse of my day.  I did a ‘day in the life’ blog earlier this week, but it was just text and pictures.

This week was our first full week in a while (retreat last week, tornado warnings the week before, and like a 3 day week the week before that I think).


On Wednesday, I woke up at 8:00.  I usually wake up at 6:00 (never update your iOS right before bed – I forget you get the lovely ‘hello’ screen once it restarts).  My first class on Wednesday is at 8:30.  I was going to be late.  I decided I would steal an idea of a colleague who says she gives her students specific jobs on days there is a sub.  I emailed my entire first period and told A to center the class (breathing exercises we do right before class), G to ensure all of the classroom economy stuff got taken care of, S to lead the class in a discussion of the homework, coming to a consensus about the problems, and R to pass out the quizzes that were on my desk afterward.  As I pulled up at 8:45, I knew there would be really just two options of what would happen; they would do the things I asked in the email or they would just goof around and/or argue about what they should be doing.

As I walked up the stairs, I didn’t hear any commotion coming out of my open classroom door.  Good sign.  I walked in and S was standing off to the side while G was explaining his thinking on a homework problem with the rest of the class listening.  S said ‘oh man, I was doing so well leading’ when I walked in.  I told her to just continue and I sat in the back and let them run the rest of the discussion.

They came to the last problem where they had probably the best conversation I’ve had so far out of all my classes.  I didn’t say anything until the end.  I’ve included a video of parts of the conversation below.  The angle is pretty poor b/c I was in the back and didn’t want to distract them by letting them know I was filming.

I told them that it made my heart happy that they could just run a successful math class without me.  The class period after that went pretty badly (see below).  Maybe I should’ve skipped out on that one too.

In Robotics, we’re onto our ‘gold digger’ project where students have to have their robot drive around on a table and use the color sensor to find pieces of ‘gold’ (yellow paper) and to be able to recognize when it’s at the edge of the table, stop, and back up so the robot doesn’t fall off.  I put my code own code together while the students worked.  I have it making the Super Mario coin sound whenever it finds gold.  If you know anything about programming, I’m trying to get the program to stop running once three pieces have been found.  I wanted to use variables to create a counter for gold pieces found and the program would stop after three pieces were found.  Haven’t figured it out yet.  Found a simpler, hodgepodge way of doing by using a ‘wait until’ block and am having it wait until one piece is found, wait a few seconds, wait for another piece, wait a few seconds, and wait for a final piece, and then stop the code.  I’ve included the code below.

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 5.28.39 PM (2)


I found myself getting super impatient with my second period class the day I was late.  It was really my own fault.  They were taking a quiz and I was going to use that opportunity to try and get stuff ready for office hours that would be during lunch that day.  Students kept coming up and asking me questions about the quiz (the same questions).  Here was my own internal dialogue:

  • The instructions are pretty clear on this.  Why do they keep asking me what the question means?
  • You said you didn’t want to be one of those teachers who got frustrated when students asked questions.
  • But I’m trying to get my stuff ready for office hours and they keep asking the same questions after I went over them with the whole class!
  • It’s not their fault that you’re not prepared because you got up late.
  • Well they’re probably just trying to get an answer out of me when they know I’m not going to tell them how to do it.
  • That’s probably not what’s happening.  I mean, you actually could’ve worded the question better and one could argue that your wording is even incorrect (especially that one where you say you take the sign of the larger number…it would be more mathematically accurate to say the larger absolute value.)

I guess I’m doing OK if that’s the worst part of the week.

Maybe a video blog next week!

By Thom H Gibson

I help middle school STEM teachers create meaningful & memorable experiences for their students. Teacher, podcaster, YouTuber. Two-time teacher of the year

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