Bridge to College Part 2: One of Those Days

We’ve been in such a good grove so far this year. Students are coming on time, attendance has been good, the focus and willingness to struggle productively has been awesome. And then…….

Last Friday hit. Groups of two were working on the Shell task on polynomial dot patterns together. Three students wandered in late and started trying to get students off task. I had to redirect some less than appropriate for school discussions. I put the three new ones in a group together and tried to get them started. The task was tough for all of them. I had to spend too much time redirecting the new group and didn’t offer enough support to the others. I walked away from that class feeling pretty down.

Then I turned here for some reflections:

  • I chose to group the late ones together so they could start at the beginning, but group dynamics worked against that. I think I’d rather have them split up and jump into already started groups. It could be good practice for the groups to explain/teach the late students.
  • Should I have spent more time with the on-taskers? I’m not sure where I fall here. They would have gotten more out of class had I let the others stay off task, but there is a line where I can’t ignore behaviors. It is so rarely an issue that I haven’t spent enough time thinking about it. Normally, the late students join in so seamlessly.I want to find a better balance.
  • I need to be okay with that fact that not all days will be the best day. I’ve been so pumped about this specific class that I took the not so good class too hard.
  • I wanted to address it. I had a plan to do so.


Monday. I had planned to have a quick discussion with the students about how working in teams requires a different level of respect for each other. I’m actually less concerned with someone interrupting me than a group of peers.

I didn’t have this conversation.  Instead, before I could say anything one of the involved students came up to me to apologize. He says, “That wasn’t me on Friday. You know. I mean, I’m sorry. That’s not who I am, I hope you know that. I’ll do better.” Instead of giving my spiel, I answered, “We all have bad days. And you’re right, I do know that you are a fantastic student. I’m glad today is better.” And it was. Class was back to going well. Students worked hard. We used Fawn’s Visual Patterns to work through seeing patterns. Students worked with teams and then came up to the board to show the whole class when they found a unique or interesting way to look at the patterns.

And we do. I have days when I’m not feeling it. I’m sure the students know. In fact, I often tell them I’m having an off day so if I say or act differently I am sorry and its not about something they did. Teenagers are certainly going to have those days. These kids have so much going on. And they haven’t had as much time to figure out how to deal with those off days. I pulled said student aside again after class. To thank him and tell him I was proud about how he handled himself.

With that in mind, that students are going to have days where they act in ways we wish they wouldn’t, I want to keep brainstorming strategies to respect both the students who are ready to work and those that need a little gracious understanding. I’m hoping that as I continue to get to know each student I can sense when the day might be off ahead of time, but I know that won’t always be the case.


One thought on “Bridge to College Part 2: One of Those Days

  1. Pingback: Bridge to College Part 3 – alternativemath

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