On Friday afternoon, I asked one of my mentors to observe my last-period class and give me some advice on
getting them to shut up managing their talkativeness. We were talking about the Distributive Property to prepare them for the lesson I’ll be teaching on Monday, and I asked them a question. Because I’m a teacher, and that’s what I do. I ask lots of questions.
Anyway, I asked them a question, and I don’t even remember what the question was. That’s not important. They were really struggling with the question (whatever it was), and I was getting a lot of blank stares and confused looks.
I see this a lot in math at the secondary (middle and high school) level. The students have been trained to think that math is hard, and therefore any question must require a lot of thought to answer. Or they think it’s not even worth trying, because they’ll never get the answer. One of my mantras in my classes is “Don’t over-think this, guys!” I probably should have that posted on my wall along with the Rules of Math that I blatantly stole from Mathy McMatherson. (Thanks, Mr. Schneider!)
So as they sat there looking confused, I said, “Ok, you guys are majorly over-thinking this. I can tell because there’s smoke coming off your heads.”
And about 10 high school boys immediately looked up to see the smoke.