My school’s math department is introducing an initiative in which our students have to create a math portfolio that’s composed of various assignments, write-ups, summaries, and reflections of concepts learned from each particular unit that documents the work that a student has done over a 3-4 week period of time. Since this is the first time my students are being exposed to such a comprehensive assignment, I took the time to create templates for them to use to get them on the right track and alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty.
So after finally getting the time to make copies, I presented the unit portfolio to my students yesterday, bombarding them with tons of paperwork. It was a lot, and only half of what was to come, and so I informed my students that this will be the last time that I’ll be printing 13 page packets for them to use and that after uploading them onto our class website, they will have to print out the documents themselves for unit 2.
One of the components requires students to create their own geometry problem, trade with a partner and complete each other’s question, and then return them and grade and reflect upon the experience. Well, one particular student, let’s call him Adam, calls out and asks sarcastically, “why is this relevant?” Nicely worded and an excellent question, but I didn’t appreciate his manner of questioning. Nonetheless, I decided to answer truthfully and responded by telling the class that one learns the most when one teaches another and this activity was also a good way for students to identify errors in their and their classmates’ work. Adam seemed to be satisfied with my answer and didn’t pursue the conversation any further.
Today, I presented my classes with the second half of their unit portfolio assignment with more papers and work. Before I could even start to lead my students through the piles of paper, Adam calls out in a serious tone, “More paper? You’re going to buy me ink for unit 2, right?” Now this pissed me off. I told him point blank that I’m not going to buy him anything and that he didn’t have to use my templates and can just write everything out by hand. Adam got upset and asked what my problem was and for me not to raise my voice at him. So I started yelling at him and told him I didn’t like his sarcasm and how he was unappreciative of the help I was giving him by spending my own time to type out 13 pages of templates and that I was originally just going to give the class a checklist and they would have to do everything on their own. Of course he got defensive and told me to calm down asked what my problem was. I should have stopped, but I went further and told him that I was also upset at him for his sarcasm the previous day. That’s when he blew up and said that he was just asking questions. I told him that I was trying to help him, but apparently he didn’t want my help. He then said enough and told me to stop. I said fine and that I was stopping, but for some reason Adam kept going and called my work stupid. Then I got loud again saying that I stopped but he wanted to keep on going. He then started cursing underneath his breath and that’s when I told him to get out of my room and go to the dean’s office. At first he didn’t move, but he saw that I wasn’t playing as I went for my classroom phone to call for security, so he left.
Most of the class didn’t see how it started, so I told them what happened so that we can all be on the same page in case I needed them as witnesses. Fast forward to the beginning of next period and in walks Adam with my math Assistant Principal who he ended up running into after leaving my room. I didn’t have a class, so we sat down and both apologized to each other admitting our faults. Adam ended the conversation saying that he already went to another AP and got his schedule changed so that he wouldn’t have me as his geometry teacher anymore. Sure, if that’s how you roll.