## Don’t mess with Mister In-Between

A fellow blogger wrote, “In some ways, I feel like a first year teacher again. I’m filled with a new-found enthusiasm for my classes … but I’m having a hard time so far getting students to buy in. I know that we are only 2 weeks into the year, but I’m a little discouraged by what I’m seeing from some of my classes … “

I can relate!  I have been out of the classroom for 12 years and now I have 6 classes of freshman Algebra 1.  Some days I feel like a novice!  Especially those days when the class falls apart!

Four of the classes seem to rock and roll quite well.   Today we worked on domain and range using a circuit exercise.  I posted 12 sets of data around the room … some as tables or mapping diagrams, some as graphs.  Students had to identify the domain and range of each set of data.  The answers to one set of data were on another poster.  So students worked out the domain and range of one graph … then went to the poster where they found that answer.  And so the circuit began.  They knew they had the answers correct when they completed the loop.

The other two classes cannot keep it together long enough to work in groups.  There are subsets of students in these two classes that haven’t decided yet to join in the learning.  I get that math doesn’t come easy to them.  And I also understand that it doesn’t seem important at this point in their life.  But they don’t give the class a chance!

<<Parenthetical Insert>> >>As I type this blog, I’m listening to National Public Television … listening to this song …

You got to ac (yes, yes) -cent-tchu-ate the positive
Eliminate (yes, yes) the negative
And latch (yes, yes) on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between
No, don’t mess with Mister In-Between

It’s serendipitous message! >>

Then I checked my email … received a Brighter Brain Newsletter from Eric Jensen in which he outlined these ideas for fostering more student effort:

2. Use specific buy-in strategies to hook in students (build relevance)
3. Make it their idea (inclusion, choice and control)
4. Lower the risk (making failures part of the learning process and providing better support for ELL)
5. Build the Learner’s Mindset (“I can grow!”)
6. Increase Feedback (“It’s the best motivator”)
7. Stair-step the Effort (Baby steps work)

Jensen writes, “Remember, there are no lazy or unmotivated students. They’re just giving you feedback about their world and your teaching. If they are not engaged, then change what you’re doing. Don’t get down when kids are down; take on the challenge. This could be the best year of your life.”

So this weekend … renewed motivation to figure out what changes I can make to invite … coax, beguile, entice … even the most disengaged student to join me in our algebra adventures!

If you have thoughts, ideas, tricks of the trade to share … I’m all ears!