Meditations on a Cogen (No. 26) • Thursday, May 19, 2022

During the 2021-22 school year I’m having weekly co-generative dialogues (or cogens) with my students. In an effort to help me process these talks and document progress, I summarize and write reflections after each cogen. This is the 26th post in the series.

Final Preparations
With our lesson on rational exponents going down tomorrow, today is important. When all the students arrive, we greet each other and dig into snacks. I seemed to have planned things well because my snack reservoir is running low at just the right time of the year.

The kids still have clarifying questions on the math, so we dig into the problems I gave them last week. I pepper the students with questions and they return the favor. I work out a couple of problems for them on a nearby board.

We go over the opening slide, which I helped a student create and share during period 8.

Our lesson’s opening slide, designed by my cogen students

It’s pretty good. Front-loading the conversion formula was a smart move. This way, the class can jump right into applying it and gaining fluency. In past years, I’ve spent time developing it through a geometric sequence, but this year that ain’t happening. The cogen students from periods 3 and 7 decided to create student groups, so I give them a printed class roster and ask them to type group member names directly on the slide before class tomorrow.

All that’s left is to move furniture. It’s awkward moving our two-person tables into two large groups. We change the layout at least three times in order to make it work. After about 10 minutes, the room looks like a different place. Weeks ago, during the early stages of our planning, we envisioned precisely this type of physical transformation of the room. I’m glad to see it come to fruition.

As the students head out, I dish out high-fives and reiterate how proud I am of them. The previous two cogen-inspired ventures had similar pre-lesson vibes, but this one feels different. Maybe it’s because of the lesson itself or because it’s because this is the last one, I’m not sure. Either way, I couldn’t be any more satisfied with their commitment, ingenuity, and willingness to make this lesson a reality.

Last Cogen
With Regents prep tightening its grip on the remaining days of the school year, I’ve decided that today will be the final cogen. At some point during today’s session, I mention this to the students. I also highlight the 25 previous cogens that brought so much life to my school year and how, unlike their predecessors, this group will not be afforded the opportunity to choose their replacements.

As I share this with the group, I am disheartened. It hits me that our table will be empty next week, that there will be nothing left to discuss, and that we will have exhausted our pedagogical problem-solving. I’m thankful for how my cogens have sharpened my instruction, but low-spirited that it has to end. My cogen has traveled with me and helped me navigate the highs and lows of this unforgettable school year, so when the students depart today, I feel a companion has left my side. I am left to face the last several weeks of school on my own.

Refusing to accept an anticlimactic exit to the cogen, I immediately plan for one last gathering: a cogen reunion. I’m sure not all of my students will be able to attend, but it will still help bring closure to this memorable experience.

Invite to be given to all of my cogen students for an end-of-year cogen reunion


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