Hope – It’s a Beautiful Thing

--Originally published at Mrs. Gibbs Flips Algebra 1

So, I'm teaching this Pre-Calculus Trigonometry class for a local community college. As I mentioned in my previous post, it is scheduled for one night a week, 4.5 hours. There are 9 class meetings and the exam.

I have a lot of material to cover in 9 class meetings.

After the first test, we have a test scheduled for every other week until the final. That means a whole unit of material in about a class and a half.

It's overwhelming (for students AND me).

Even with the flipped format - which, I'm sure, makes the situation more bearable - it is hard to make sure material is covered AND students understand it in a class and a half. I still feel I am throwing material at my students and hoping some of it sticks.

Our second test covered trigonometric expressions, identities, and equations.

Yikes. Learn all these trig concepts AND use every algebra skill you might have ever been shown.

Students were nervous and unsure as they came to class. Watching them take the test was hard for me. I made the test as straightforward as I could, and I gave them a reference sheet to use, but it covered. so. much. stuff.

I graded the test as a few students took a retest of Test 1. They were not pretty. A few knew parts of the material well, no one really showed mastery of all of it, and a few were completely lost.

After I returned Test 1 a couple of weeks ago, I told my students I was a big believer in hope.

I've been giving retakes in my 8th-grade classroom for several years, and I wanted to do something similar in the college class. I told students if they'd correct their original test, they could retake it the following week after they finished the scheduled test.
I plan to do the same thing for Test 2.
I was able to talk to a few of the students about the retake for Test 2 before they left.
As I gave one student his test, telling him to begin working through it this week and making corrections, another student asked, "We're going to get to retake that test?" When I said, "Yes," the look on his face was one of complete relief. Of hope.
I reminded them I was a big believer in hope.
The first student said, "I'm so glad you have hope in us." I think he meant "faith," but the thought is the same. These students can keep trying because they have hope.
I talked to another student who was extremely frustrated after the test. But he looked at me and said, "I'm not going to quit. I will not drop this class."
And I was able to tell him he didn't have to. He can work on the material he found difficult, work with me in class, and learn the material.
I'm still trying to figure out how to "do" this summer class format. Flipping instruction was the way to go, allowing retakes is the way to go, but there are a lot of things I'm still not sure I've approached correctly. Or how to approach things so I am better assured of students' grasp of the material. I'm hoping to get some feedback from the students by the end of the summer to see what worked and what I could have done better.
But I'm pretty sure of this: these students know I care, they know I want them to learn, and they know I'm going to give them time and opportunity to do so.
At this point, no one has dropped the class, and everyone is still working and trying.
All because of a little thing called hope.

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