Sunday, May 22, 2022

Taking a high school Trigonometry class

Note: I wrote this post a few years back, but I forgot to hit the publish button, I guess.

For a lot of reasons, I've been wishing my trigonometry skills were up to par recently.  My lack of knowledge has specifically held me back from solving a few design problems, and there is also the possibility that I can offer my Digital Electronics students a math credit if I could pass the test formerly known as the Praxis, and get my high school math certification.  For those of you who don't know, I currently teach high school Computer Aided Drafting, Project Lead the Way engineering classes, and a wood shop class.  This year my conference period landed on an hour in which trig was taught, so I asked the teacher if she would mind if I sat in, and now here I am taking high school trigonometry in sixth period. 

I wanted to document some of my thoughts here, because it's a weird feeling taking a high school class as an adult, and I'm getting some insights into the life of a high schooler that I'm not getting by merely teaching classes.

It's hard.

OMG it's hard.  Maybe my classmates have it easier because they all just came out of Algebra 2, but I'm struggling with just the basic algebra side of things, much less the trigonometry.  We're learning the Pythagorean Identities and if we go slowly I can keep up, but I have to keep referencing knowledge that I just learned yesterday, and it becomes confusing quickly.  It takes too long to understand everything back to the root knowledge, so I have to just memorize waypoints, but when I use memorized knowledge I forget what it all means.  My brain is not used to working this hard.

I'm doing about an hour of homework a day, too.  Plus, I'm giving up my conference period, which means I have about an hour of teacher stuff to do at the end of each day, so this class is costing me two hours a day total.  None of that is a really big deal at this point in the year, but it may be trouble later.  My primary thought on this though is that these students are probably working this hard in most of their classes.  Could it be possible that they have 3 hours of homework a night?  I'll have to ask a few of them.  As an electives teacher I never give homework so students can concentrate on their non-electives class homework, and this experience is reinforcing that decision.

Where are the girls?

My trigonometry class has a perfect 50-50 split of boys and girls, and of the 7 boys in the class, 6 of them are in my CAD 2 or Digital Electronics classes.  Exactly zero of the girls are in any of my classes.  What's going on here?  Most of my students don't take trig, so I'm always excited to get the students who do, and it seems like the easiest way to get more trig students would be to get the girls too.  There seems to be a relationship between advanced math boys and mechanical/electronic engineering.  Why does this relationship not exist for the girls?  What electives are the girls taking?  I need to find out.

Do I need to raise my hand to go pee?

The other day I needed to use the bathroom during class, but I didn't know what the protocol for asking permission was.  I just held it. 

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