As a Mathematics teacher, transitions are clear and precise. One could say our behavior is modeled by an equation! But seriously, for starters, there is no other effective transition than answering problems to homework. Everyone values the time spent on answering homework, especially since students get professional help on a difficult problem. I value the opening, since I show off my knowledge and students are very attentive at doing the problem correctly.
Opening a lesson is straight-forward. The textbook shows great organization skills, displaying progressing difficulty with each lesson. So instead of immediately beginning the chapter, the teacher will share an amusing anecdote to lighten the students. It may be an experience last week, or even an event the previous night. Students are always interested, and quite frankly, I would be more surprised if they weren’t.
Lesson closure involves telling students what to expect tomorrow, or the following week. Students are always up-to-date. Other than quizzes and tests, there are little surprises. Needless to say, there isn’t much to make math exciting to everyone. Still, communication is key to a successful relationship, and I’m certain students prefer information than a lack of verbal confirmation.
There are three main transitions that occurred in class:
Answering Homework/Lecture: Eventually, the teacher has to teach the lesson. The teacher handled this by preparing the lecture before answering homework. All the teacher has to do is answer the difficult homework problems on the SmartBoard, then present the lecture. During the brief time of pulling up the lecture, the teacher did have to lower the volume of the class.
Lecture/Homework: One the lecture is done, students are given their homework. This transition takes less than a minute. All students have to do is get a piece of paper and open their textbooks. It’s that easy. All the teacher had to do was present the assignment on the last slide, and the students would do the rest. Maintenance was required to make students finish the homework, however.
Group Work/Collaboration: The teacher assigns a specified amount of time working on problems. When the time is up, the teacher gathers the attention of the students, and they bring their attention to the front of the room. Again, the transition takes less than a minute, but the hardest part is making students stop talking. However, the teacher is very sharp on telling students to stop talking.
If there’s one thing I want to learn quick, it’s growing eyes on the back of my head. I want to be able to turn around and hear Tim chewing gum. I want to see a paper airplane in midair while I’m facing the board. So if there’s anything I could practice after the observation, it’s timing my discipline. If done right, students can be impressed. And impressing is a skill I admire.
The activities in a math classroom may appear mundane to most, but there is a lot of maintenance going on. Structure is organized and efficient.