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Well, I did it. I applied to school, sent them my transcripts, etc. I’ve attended five colleges! Ugh. I think I blacked out a couple of them. I decided as much as I love English and reading and writing and talking about it until I’m blue in the face… I would apply for the Math program. I still have mixed feelings about all of it. But here’s the thing, I know math and science are easier areas to find work in. And the thing is, math comes easy for me. I taught math and science for most of last year both subbing and long term. I know I don’t always approach it the way you’re “supposed” to explain math but I also know I get through to the kids. It’s kind of awesome to see their faces light up when they finally understand. Watching that lightbulb go off is amazing.
I was at the high school one day in an advanced Math class. Now as a teacher, it’s common courtesy not to expect your sub to teach something brand new, especially in an advanced math class. But that was not the case for me. I rolled my eyes when I walked into the classroom and was belittled by the teacher. She wasn’t even supposed to be there, but she just had to make sure I understood her complex lesson plan. I understand her concern about whether or not I’d be able to teach the class but the other part of me wanted to shake her and say, why did you even bother? Lucky for her, I understood all of it. Fast forward to a room full of teenagers. At first, I thought, damn I’m doing a really shitty job at this. Hand after hand was raised asking me to explain in detail every step. Finally, I asked, “You guys should understand everything up to this new point. What’s the deal?” The students who finished feverishly taking notes looked up. “You’ve explained more then our teacher has all year. I finally understand what she keeps droning on about.” There were echoes of agreement in the class.
I didn’t really have a response to that. It all just seems like common sense to me. So I went on and we finished class. Only I had a very similar experience in the next four class periods as well.
I wish I could say I only had one moment like that this past year but I’d be lying. I’m not for a second suggesting that I’m better than some other teacher who has years on me. I don’t know them or their methods. All I know is my own truth. And for me, all it shows me is maybe I’m on the right path for now. Maybe if I can make Math a little less scary, we might have one or two more scientists or engineers in the world. Or just some kid who dreams big and needs a cool math teacher for support. I had one of those. And if there’s one thing I believe above all other things… I believe you get back from the world what you put into it. I want a lot out of life and I’m willing to give a lot to get it.
I don’t know.
Honestly, most days I feel like I know nothing at all. It’s a humbling feeling for sure. That the world is so much bigger than me. And there is so much I don’t know yet. So much I want to know and learn and do and be a part of.