Last night was another Back-to-School Night. As usual, I found it stimulating and enjoyable. By a strange quirk of the schedule, I was free the first two and the last two blocks, which left me with four “classes” in a row right in the middle. As each is only ten minutes long, the sequence is not too tiring, but the frequent switching of context and materials was a bit nerve-wracking, especially since my two geometry sections came first and fourth. Although the evening is never intended for individual conferences, they’re impossible to avoid, particularly before the first class and after the last. It was fun to touch base with the many parents of former students who are also parents of current students, as I seem to be teaching a large number of younger siblings this year, not to mention a dozen repeat performances (mostly juniors whom I had taught as freshmen). And once again I got to talk to parents who are former students of mine themselves — but that is not a new experience by this point. For some reason there seem to be quite a number of former residents of Lincoln and Sudbury who now live in Weston.
It’s rare for parents to use this opportunity to raise concerns, so my ears perk up when that does happen. This time there were several parents of honors geometry students who expressed concern about the fact that our challenging introductory unit on transformational geometry isn’t in our textbook. (Why isn’t it? Well, that’s a topic for another post.) “What,” they ask, “can my daughter/son use for reference when they don’t understand something? The problems use some very difficult notation.”
“I present everything clearly in class, and the students take notes,” I reply.
“But these are 14-year-olds,” one parent points out. “Many of them don’t yet know how to take good notes, so when I go to help them, I have no resources.”
OK, point taken. That’s certainly a legitimate observation. In response, I am in the process of writing up a reference sheet for transformational geometry, and will post it by the end of the day. It will be too terse to learn from in the absence of classwork, but I hope it will help for those who missed an idea or who just need to review for the upcoming test. And maybe it will even help the parents.