I was thanked and I felt reassured that I had talked to the student. My class was working in self selected groups on a series of purposely challenging problems so I could assess where everyone was at. Last week was one of those crazy weeks where I was in and out of the classroom and I wasn’t sure if any of the instruction had stuck with the students; and it was homecoming week. The math was not trivial, but not “rocket science” either. But you would have thought by the reaction the other group member had that the student thought 1+1=cat. He raised out of his chair, reached over, fussing at the other student and just kept saying, No! He was loud with a bewildered expression on his face. How could anyone have done that?
I love the difference in my students. They may be in the same math class, they may not. It really doesn’t matter. Some kids come to me with some rather big holes in their math backgrounds but with practice they can identify them and fill them in. And then I get some who are just very, very good at math. And it is very hard for them to understand everyone else on the planet. And they are just so fun to watch when they work together.
A few years back I was teaching honors physics and as a first day activity they wrote down what math class and teacher they had. I double checked in the computer. My honors physics kids had seven different classes and twelve different teachers. Well, okay, I guess I will just assume absolutely nothing. And the only two sophomores in the class were the stars.
Another year, again in self selected groups, a shining math star was helping the girl seated next to him. This was physics. And he retreated totally. No pleading on her part could get him to help her because whatever math error she had just committed was the final fatal blow. He put the neck of his shirt up over his head and sat like that for the rest of the period. He couldn’t look at whatever it was that she had done. How could anyone help but laugh? I figured I didn’t need to know the details of that exchange either.
Why do I teach? Because it is constantly changing, dynamic, entertaining, enlightening, and some days just downright fun!