It was a rough day at the office for the past few days.
Friday was a terrible example of something I’ll call idea creep. We were reviewing the Do Now, a visual pattern, and a students said something about area when describing a growing square. One student said it grew wider and longer. I suggested the word ‘geometrically’ and I said that was interesting. Then I kept talking…
Flash back to before the class and I remember having a whole bit about arithmetic and geometric sequences because it might be interesting. There really wasn’t time to do it, but the idea of talking about sequences alongside these visual patterns still lingered.
After the student noticed decided to interject a little of the sequence language, so I mentioned ‘geometrically’ The class wasn’t as excited as I had expected. Next thing you know I am pointing to another pattern that wasn’t a geometric sequence so they could see a distinction.
Now things could have taken a turn. If this was a brief aside, now it appears like an important part of the lesson. If things were going over their heads before, now they are confused or frustrated. The original conversation has gone off track, and the student who did the initial noticing is checking out. At this point if I keep pushing this outside idea it’s going to creep in and take over a huge chunk of the lesson and my class culture.
This idea creep was definitely a problem I would have when I was a younger teacher but it seems to keep ‘creeping’ back in, especially with classes where the kids are not all comfortable with one another. Luckily I was able to stop it before I decided to erase half the board an adlib a 15 minute thing and then ruin the rest of the activity I had planned for the last half of class #carl’sfirstyearofteaching.