Friday, June 02, 2006

Renewed Resolve!

Wow, I haven't posted since Tuesday? Of course, keeping my days straight has been a challenge this week since I've been mostly sleeping during the middle of the day. Of course that means I am up all night! Anyway, I'm off to San Diego again this weekend through the beginning of the week. Hopefully I can get some nice pictures while I'm there. Now, on to the topic of the moment...

Something happened at work today that renewed my resolve to be a math teacher. During a break in my regularly scheduled class, my boss, Rodney*, asked if I had a minute to help with another student, David's* math problem. After looking at the problem and explaining (verifying really) how to do it, I thought I would be on my way to the loo to do my business. As I turned to walk out of the room, I heard Rodney ask David if he "got that."

I'm thinking, "Of course, not! That was the abridged version for those of us who know what we're doing. Not the version for those just learning!" And what a surprise, David looks at Rodney blankly and says, "Huh?"

So does Rodney go over and explain the problem at the level the student can understand? Nope. He just yells at the 11-year old David and says, "No wonder you're failing! I've had it with you. Go ahead and fail!"

Sure, it might have been somewhat helpful if David was paying attention to my explanation, but there were others in the room distracting him and I'm sure he didn't realize he needed to pay attention at that point! Sure, he gives me trouble from time to time (I have him on Thursdays), but what 11-year old boy doesn't?! If I realized this would happen, I would have explained directly to David, which is what I ended up doing.

I felt so horrible for the kid. I know he isn't trying to fail. He just needs someone to take some time, be patient and walk him through each step. It wasn't an easy problem, as Rodney mentioned loudly and repeatedly; at least not for his level. Sure it was easy for me, but I'm not an 11-year old seeing this for the first time!

As I sat down next to David to help him with the problem, I could see he was doing his best not to cry. His eyes were red and I could see he was feeling overwhelmed. I patiently went through the problem with him (twice) and reassured him that he could do it, he just needed to take it one step at a time.

Even after spending 15 minutes with him, I could see he was still feeling overwhelmed (he admitted as much to me when I asked). I tried my best to repair the damage done by Rodney's words, but I'm not sure how well I did. I hope David's not scarred for life. After seeing this incident, it's no wonder so many students hate math! UGH!

*I changed the names of the people involved to protect their identities.

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