I am not one of those teachers who doesn’t make mistakes on the board. I had this math professor in college who never once made a single mistake on the board in one semester of teaching (MATH 354: Survey of Algebra, easily the best math class I took in college, still can’t really tell you what even the title of the class means). He was also very typical math professor – curly Russian fro, about 140 pounds, short sleeved button down shirts, thick eastern European Bond villian accent etc. I will never forget the first day of class when he couldn’t turn the projector off or get the screen to go up so he could use the chalkboard. It was like watching a sitcom, or Saturday Night Live, except that it was Tuesday morning, and the laugh track was really quiet because we weren’t sure what to do.
Anyway, I hope from my description of him (and the Venn Diagram from the last post) you gather that I am not like him. And I do make mistakes on the board, often. When you’re standing in front of 18 teenagers, the last thing you’re thinking about is double checking whether x actually should be negative or not (even though you just said out loud it should be). So I instituted something in my classes called “Donut Points,” thank you to the interwebs for the idea. Every time I make a mistake on the board and they correct it, the class earns a donut point. When we get up to 30, I buy donuts. Pretty simple, and strangely effective (many kids have told me it helps them pay attention better).
Well, in my Physics classes I’m still in the low teens, but Calculus was pretty quick – it only took about 5 weeks to gather up enough points for donuts, which we cashed in a few days ago. I got the donuts from the local donut joint, Donuts Factory, which in a land without copyright law is allowed to have the exact same logo as Dunkin’ Donuts. I arrived to class humbled by my mistakes, and then quickly forgot about them after a knock-off Boston Kreme. Now I’m okay that I’m not one of those teachers who never makes mistakes on the board.