Monday, February 15, 2010

The Life of a Teacher Day 6

Just a little history for you: Prior to teaching at a suburban school I taught at an inner-city school; to be exact, a near-west side (of Chicago) charter school for students who had been kicked out of C.P.S (Chicago Public Schools) or who left C.P.S for one reason or another. Within the last seven months or so, many of the students that I taught at this inner-city school have contacted me on facebook and have given me compliments about the things that I taught them. Basically, they have thanked me for teaching them more than just mathematics.

As a teacher, I really never know how much I affect the lives of the students; sometimes I may never know. To be honest, I know I have not affected all of my students in a positive way because I have expectations for my students and I get frustrated when those expectations are not fulfilled. I expect them to be neat, follow directions, attempt everything, pay attention, come prepared for class, take notes, ask questions, participate, and communicate. If they draw a picture on their homework assignment I expect the picture to be drawn with a ruler and/or a mathematical compass. My goal is to get my students to produce quality work as well as attempt to understand the concepts and how to apply them. And as I always tell my students, "If you don't try, you will never learn."

Throughout my teaching career I have tried to teach my students that everyone learns at a different pace. There are some students that can sit in a mathematics classroom, take notes, pay attention, and participate in class and earn an "A." But, there are other students that can follow these same strategies and never understand a single concept. What does that tell you? I know what that tells me. It tells me that the second type of student will need to put in more effort and time into getting a good grade in mathematics because they do not have the natural talent of the first student. It's okay, because students learn at different paces.

Let me give an example, pertaining to myself, about learning at different paces. It is my understanding that I have dyslexia, which means I have a difficulty with reading and it takes me much longer to read 10 pages than the average person. In addition, I don't spell very well (thank God for spellcheck). During my college years this caused some problems. However, instead of getting down on myself and calling myself stupid, I made a conscientious effort to allocate extra time to a reading assignment. I worked around my reading disability so that I could be successful in college (This will lead into my next blog which will discuss special education in American schools). I believe all students have the ability and responsibility to meet their full potential.

However, what I want you to remember the most from this blog is that if someone touches your life in a positive way, be verbal and tell that person. I guarantee they will want to hear it and feel like they have made a difference in someone's life !!!