Becca Tatitscheff , 9th Grade Mathematics
Community School for Social Justice, NY, NY
This website was developed by the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching (NCREST) at Teachers College, and can be accessed at the following URL:
(this link was valid on 8/25/06)
This site explores the experiences of two co-teachers in an inclusive ninth grade math class in New York City. Click on the images to the left to journey through the reflections, context, and assignments (challenges) of our learning community.
The complexity of teaching is not something I ever feel able to capture. The experiences that Patrick and I enact with kids are not reproducible, nor are the experiences of the students, or the way it feels when things go well or do not go well. Over the past semester the process of documenting my teaching has been one of the more intense teaching experiences of my career. However, the site that attempts to capture this complexity is the result of those efforts. Although I believe that this site captures the multiple forces intersecting in our classroom. I do not believe it captures those moments in our classroom when I am saying in my head, “you need to remember that this students needs something different today, she is behaving this way for a reason,” or the significance of the day that Octavia walked up to the board and erased Johnny’s name from one group and put hers there instead because the class was arguing about how the group would work together. The emotional “stuff” of a moment is deeply complex and as a reminder, for me and for the reader, it seems pertinent to explain that this is not a prescription that can be reenacted with another group of students. These are some ideas. We tried a lot of different things, purposefully. There is not a day in this class that I left feeling hopeless. For the most part, this diverse group of students has offered me the most growing experience of my career in terms of pushing myself to leave school everyday and ask, “what do we need to do tomorrow?”
For the first time, I experimented with not having a plan. That is not to say that I didn’t have a goal for the course. But for the firs time, I did not do daily lesson plans a week before. Instead, I began at the beginning and thought of the class as a negotiated journey. The theme, mathematics, was laden throughout the year, but the individual lessons and projects, what I call challenges, emerged as the year went on. I would use some of these again. While others, such as the Metrocard challenge, seem appropriate to time and place. Students questions often offered me insight into where we might go next. Were these students not ninth graders, and were I more comfortable with this particular type of journey, I might spend more time making explicit the connection between their questions and the assignments. For now, the question remains an invitation into something students might be interested in or find important.