Lesson 3: Statics. Negative Feedback.

Today was the day of negative feedback. Negative feedback can be one of two types: constructive and destructive.

The first one is the criticism by clever people. This kind of negative feedback makes you better. Thanks to such feedback I finally realized that I move too fast, that children don't even try to solve anything themselves. And I took note of this. For the next lesson I chose less problems, and I didn't solve any of them on the blackboard myself.

But the other kind of unpleasant feedback is disrespect and impoliteness of a student who doesn't like your subject or/and who is impudent and bad-mannered. It's a stress, it sucks out all your power, it makes you feel empty. Also it makes you dream about a match of L4D2: dismembering zombies is a good way to let off some steam... Wait, is it ok?

So now, right after the lesson, I'm sitting at a cafe, writing this, and have no energy to get up and go to work. Seems like that girl is striving for my death :(

— written on August 9, 2011


Lesson 2: Dynamics (another group). Bold Experiment.

The idea of the experiment arised after I got an advice from our Chief Physicist of Summer School. An advice was to let fast students solve their own list of problems ahead of other children - an obvious advice, but not for me. And then I thought: ok, I need two threads of execution, but why execute them on the same CPU? It's 21st century now, the era of multi-core processors! And here we come to the idea of the experiment: two threads, two teachers!


Lesson 2: Dynamics. Perfect Timing

Before the second lesson I tried to take into account the mistakes of the first one. I not only selected and solved the problems for this lesson, but also estimated the time required for each problem, and made sure that they make 90 minutes in total. Moreover, I marked some problems as optional, in order to skip them in case of the shortage of time. Finally, I used the principle of "two heads is better than one" and consulted my friend about the choise of the problems.

And such good preparation gave its result. This time mission was accomplished, the plan was fulfilled exactly. To be honest, I skipped all optional tasks, but all others was solved. To boost the process, I solved some of the problems myself on the blackboard, asking the children to "help" me before every important move. So, the perfect timing was achieved.

But perfect timing is not enough for a perfect lesson. Later I understood that this time I still tried to squeeze to much into a lesson. I managed to explain all the problems, children understood everything but didn't manage to remember everything. I was too fast. So, the moral is: it is not important, how much you said. Important is how much of what you said settled into the heads of your pupils.

— written on August 21, 2011


Lesson 1: Kinematics. Timing FAIL.

You must spoil before you spin well. Or, the first pancake is always a lump, as we say in Russia. For me it wasn't very difficult to reach an understanding with children. But the limited time appeared to be the hardest challenge.

OK, I hadn't prepared well for this first lesson in my life. I just looked through 15 problems on kinematics in the "Yellow Book", the workbook of the Summer School, selected and solved about 10 of them that covered the most important cases. But it's very hard to have time for 10 problems in 2 academic hours (90 min.). And it becomes impossible if some time is required for greeting and explaining the theory. For some reason I just didn't realize it.

We managed to consider only 5 problems during the lesson. Only a half of the planned number. But we considered them thoroughly: every problem was solved on a blackboard by a different person, and every question from the class, even stupid, was answered.

Looking backward now, I think that for the first lesson in my life it was conducted well. I overcame my shyness, and a habit to speak very fast. But after the end of the lesson I was very disappointed that the plan was not fulfilled. Of course, insufficient coverage of the subject is a slip, but I made an incorrect conclusion. I should have concluded that I need to choose only a few problems, but the ones that cover the subject uniformly. Instead, I decided to give children more problems in a lesson, but reduce the time per one problem. Implications of this mistake will be shown in later posts.

— written on August 20, 2011


Olympiad: The Beginning

The All-Siberia Physics Olympiad in the Summer School is what the physics begins from. There I have seen my future pupils for the first time. There the kids faced physics problems for the first time in the School.

The Olympiad is important for children. If someone gets a prize-winning place, not only he or she can brag about it, but also this person automatically has a greater chance to get into Physics and Mathematics School ("Winter School"). And even they can have a discount for the first semester.


Hello world

Let there be blog!

I've realized that one blog is not enough for a person who writes too much. Personal info and philosophy should be posted in a personal blog, but for professional posts there should be some other place. This is the first thematic blog of mine. And the first one in English. The complete list of my blogs can be found here.

My name is Ivan Novikov and I teach physics in Summer School of Novosibirsk Physics and Mathematics School (now SESC NSU). This is my first teaching experience, although I am already a 5th-year student of Novosibirsk State University. It's going quite well by now, I like it, and I'm going to move forward.

Right now I'm tired after a long and interesting day, but tomorrow I'm going to find some time and write a report about my first and second lessons of Summer School. I will also mention The All-Siberia Physics Olympiad, which I was involved in. Further reports about my lessons and events held by The Chair of Physics will be published on-the-fly, I hope.

If you're interested — stay tuned.

— written on August 8, 2011