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Monday, June 30, 2014

Days 3,4,5 SEMiModPhys14: Why three days in one?

Answer: I'm lame.

These last three days have been difficult for me. I have been worried that we aren't making the impact that I have been hoping for. Are the participants getting the same transformative experience I got? Just wait.. Be patient.. But it is so hard.

I think it is starting to happen though and I think the Hammer and Mestre articles helped a lot. Comments and questions have subtly been changing from the "I don't know if this will work" variety to more in line with "How will I make this work?" That is a huge step in my mind. There are many who I know will never go back. Others that are on the fence and a few who I think still need some time to process everything.

One of the biggest hang-ups I think some people are still having is the question of student buy-in. How will you get your students to fundamentally change to where they accept this radical change where you have removed the spoon from their mouths? It is not easy for some. But I think most crave this style of education. They just don't know it. So how do you build this culture of cooperative student learning? For me, culture building is another aspect of my class. Do I get preachy at times? Yep. Do I tell them repeatedly that I have utmost confidence in their physics and science abilities? Yep. Do I actually believe that? Yep. And I think that is the difference right there. I truly think that EVERY kid that comes into my classroom will learn physics. They may not get a perfect score on the FCI when I'm done. (Did I just say may?) But they will learn. And they will have fun doing it. And they will ask me to give them homework. Even though it is not graded. Ever.

Crazy right? No. It's not. It happens. And not just with my IB students. It happened in the normal high school I taught at as well. Students want to learn. They want to be challenged. They want to be told they can fail and you will still admire, love and respect them. And I do. It's not rocket surgery people.

I guess this goes for my students this summer too. No matter what the outcome, I know they will go back into their classrooms changed from the experience this summer. I know they will think about their student's understanding. I know they will try and probe for misconceptions and work to correct these to create a better conceptual foundation for what they teach. So I guess I've already made that difference I was hoping for, and I haven't even showed them my bowling ball lab.

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