We had just started basic proof writing in Geometry class. Things were going better than expected: I definitely anticipated proof-writing would be much more difficult to teach remotely, with all its subtle requirements and adjustments. I was pleased that students were getting the hang of it.
I did feel that they needed another class or two to assimilate the basic facts and forms. I had initially budgeted three days, but they needed a few more. I thought about what lies ahead in the semester and weighed my options. The schedule is tight, and every day is accounted for. With fewer overall class meetings, there’s not much wiggle room. But if students don’t achieve the right level of facility now, the schedule in place may not work anyway. I decided to take two more days to continue with basic proofs.
As with most decisions teachers have to make, this required synthesizing a lot of different information: Course sequences and outcomes; interdependencies between content; the relative importance of topics; the time required to master certain skills; and of course, knowledge of the students in front me. It’s the kind of high-level planning decision I make dozens of times a year as a teacher, and one I’m generally comfortable with.
But I’m not comfortable making that decision right now. It’s been difficult to gauge how much can be accomplished in a single class of remote/hybrid learning. And it’s been difficult to predict how long it will take key ideas to take hold for students. With so little experience in this form of teaching, it’s hard to anticipate how the semester will unfold. Trading an extra day here and for a day months from now used to be an easy decision for me to make. It’s not right now.
I think I’ve made the right decision about proofs for my Geometry class. More importantly, I have confidence that we’ll be able to adapt as necessary. I haven’t felt like that often this year. It’s a welcome step back toward normalcy.