Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Mohawk Experiment, Year Two: Does It Work?

Last week was my first full week of school after restarting my mohawk experiment. To be honest, after a bumpy first week, I wasn't optimistic about whether this creature on my head would have any effect on student motivation. It seems like I've tried most of my best ideas this year with less than stellar results, leaving me more frustrated than usual this year.

I'm happy to report, however, that I think I've really turned a corner with my Algebra I class. I am able to teach more without interruption at the beginning of class, they are more engaged in their independent work, and they are less prone to outbursts or arguments directed towards me. Time will tell if this is just an anomaly or a real change, but I'll take it for now.

It's too early to declare this a success overall, but last week was certainly a successful week. I know it has also made a difference in my other classes, as students learn why I did it and understand the symbolism.

I can tell you that I am making a small sacrifice of my happiness for the good of my students. Part of me wants to have a really bad day so I have an excuse to shave it off. I don't like it--I don't like any hairstyle that requires a lot of maintenance in terms of cost or effort. What's more is that here in Boston, unlike the eternal warmth of the Rio Grande Valley, it's freakin' cold! As you can imagine, it's difficult to wear a hat and keep my mohawk upright. Indeed, most days I take the styling goo with me to work and wait to spike it up until I get there.

So while my students and girlfriend both love it, I do not, except for the obvious: it has promoted a positive change in my students' behavior and work ethic. Anything I can do to preserve that is a sacrifice I am willing to make!

Read more about this experiment here.