Throughout my schooling, my teachers – particularly math & sciences – have always assigned “extra problems”. They were never required or graded, but were there for good practice. I never understood why they always gave us extra work. Didn’t they know that if it wasn’t going to be graded we weren’t going to do it? Until college, I didn’t realize that these extra problems were good for studying. And when later college years hit, and I actually really needed to study, I found that these extra problems were good for trying to understand what was going on in class……good practice.
These teachers also had more tests or quizzes than other subjects. I never liked to be tested; always gave me way too much anxiety even with extra time. At times, I had quizzes every week. While it became routine – and I didn’t like it at first – I realized that the more quizzes I had, the less each quiz would count toward my average quiz grade. It was also, good practice.
As obvious as it seems, this needs to be said: With applied sciences, the more opportunities you have to work out different problems, the better you get at problem solving, thinking critically, and understanding the fundamentals. Done. Intuitively, I knew this, but it wasn’t until after college that I understood it.
I am now a teacher, and a student.
In my planning, I find myself following the footsteps of my previous teachers without even thinking about it. Until I realized why they assigned extra problems. Until I realized why they gave weekly quizzes. It is extremely scary when you come to this level.
I want to quiz them, but I know I despised being tested. I want to assign extra problems, but I know I never did them. I want them to like me, but I don’t want to let my guard down.
I have to find the balance between what I want and what it was like as a teenager. I certainly don’t think the same way as I did in high school. I have to back up, and look at the problem from the outside. What do I want them to take away? How do I motivate them? What do they want or need from my class? How far can I push without them breaking? I have to find the balance between what I want and what it was like as a teenager.
It’s just another problem to solve.