Math 597T Questions - Fall 2015

Some Frequently Asked Questions for the First Few Days of Class

Q: How do I learn all the students' names?
Probably the easiest way to learn students' names is to hand back papers individually. Try getting to class a little early and start handing back papers before the bell rings. Take those few extra minutes to really look at the students as you return their homework, and talk briefly to them. Another idea is to take a few minutes before class each day to call through the roster and study faces as you take attendance. After calling all the names, go back around the room and try to name each person. Just a couple of minutes of effort each day will help you learn names much more quickly. "Studying" names right after class each day will help as well.

Q: What should I do if I come into the classroom and the desks are arranged in a way I don't like (e.g. in a circle)?
Unfortunately, this might happen a lot. You should try to arrive to class early and enlist the help of the students to get the classroom back to a "normal" configuration. Once you've done it a few times, the students will get used to doing it when they arrive. If this is a persistent problem, and you find the person in the classroom ahead of you doesn't leave in enough time to get the room rearranged, you should talk to Jerrie ( about this.

Q: What is a good way to take attendance?
Some people pass around a sign-in sheet every day, or use a spiral notebook to have students sign in. Verbally taking roll every day is pretty inconvenient. If you collect homework every day, then you can use that as an attendance record. Just be sure that your students know that they should turn in a blank paper if they don't have their homework done.

Q: Will students understand language like "if and only if", "implies", etc.

Q: Some of my students are bored, while others seem really lost. How do I handle that?
This is always difficult. There will always be students who are very familiar with the material, and those who are really struggling, especially at the beginning of the semester, when you may be covering material that is considered to be "review" for them. However, you shouldn't go really quickly just because a few people look bored, and you shouldn't slow way down because a few are lost. It is your job as an instructor to make decisions about the level of your presentation and the pacing of the material. A few suggestions that might help: Ask students what they know about a topic. Build on that basis, and focus your discussion on the areas where you think they aren't as solid. For example, when discussing inverse functions, many students know to "switch x & y, then solve for y", but they don't know what that means graphically, or what happens to the domain and range of the inverse. Most likely, they also haven't seen the usefulness of inverse functions in any context. Going over all the basic stuff with an interesting, practical example will usually keep the more knowledgeable students interested, while keeping the discussion at the appropriate level for other students. Be careful of misinterpreting the boredom; often students are looking bored not because they are finding the material easy, but because they are lost and have stopped paying attention. One way to tell the difference is to give the students an in-class exercise and then walk around the room looking at their work; you'll be able to see who is really following and who isn't. It's good to keep in mind that beginning instructors tend to err more on the side of going too fast than too slow.