BARBER: Impatience only hinders IM2 development

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mugshot_barberBY RACHEL BARBER
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When an average of 21 percent of students fail three sections of Integrated Math 2, there is an obvious need for change.
IM2 students found the newly implemented curriculum difficult to adapt to, contributing to the high fail rates seen across IM2 classes.

Students enrolled in the spring term of IM2 seemed to pick up this mentality rooted in leftover student grievances from the fall term. This mentality goes and embeds the idea that if the course yielded high fail rates for students before them, history will repeat itself. So far, I’m not hearing suggestions, only complaints.

When the new year hit, one of my resolutions was the same as every year – go back to school and try as hard as I possibly can. I walked into my IM2 class on that rainy first day with an open mind and ready to learn, unaware of the struggles during the first term.

Inevitable with any new system, there will be kinks to work out. Integrating an entirely new approach to math is no overnight process. But as a student in the second term of IM2, I’ve only seen positive changes to my first period class. Similar to students, teachers are learning as well.

The main thing that students need to understand is that teachers this term have more experience than they began with. Teachers should have learned from their mistakes and taken turbulent aspects into reconsideration.

I’m hoping that teachers are paying attention to their students’ learning styles. They shouldn’t be content simply imitating past class structures and curriculums, but working to build a better foundation in this term.

Shortly into the period, Doug Ash informed my class of the changes to the course this term in response to student grievances from the term prior. I looked around to see relief on my new classmates faces. My math teacher telling us on the first day that they were planning to make the class easier? Sweet.

However, as the period went on and then weeks, jokes and complaints circulated the class, about its use of Common Core, and the integrated system in general. Math isn’t my strongest or favorite subject, but I began analyzing my friends’ protestation to this fairly new program and questioned their authority to rightfully do so.

Although teachers may still be teaching out of their comfort zone, any experience they gain benefits us. The idea of incorporating algebra, geometry, trigonometry and analysis into one course seems difficult but potentially rewarding given effective implementation.

The best analogy I could give would be for all students taking a foreign language. Time and time again I’ve heard people say that they want to take their Spanish or French classes back-to-back so as to not forget anything. I think the same principle applies here – instead of being briefly introduced to trigonometry in middle school and not hearing from it again until, say, junior year, students will get a taste of it with every passing year at RHS.

IM implementation has its fair share of struggles, but at this point students should be mature enough to understand the situation surrounding these new courses, and rather than complaining they should give constructive criticism when necessary. However frustrating baby steps may be, helpful student input will only accelerate the pace of improvement and work to alleviate future students’ pains. Contribute to the growth of the program rather than tear it down.