My Algebra students struggle with math, life, learning, and themselves. Everything they do and experience causes them to react in one way or another. Often, they react by tuning out, or convincing themselves that something is just not for them. As a teacher, this is a tough group. As an extremely sensitive teacher, this is one of the toughest assignments ever. I put my heart and soul into my teaching every day, and my desire is to see the light come on and to see students learn and feel successful. With this group, a huge success can be that they don’t ignore you or even pull out paper and pencil when asked. It’s hard to keep your spirits up when working with these students, and when a breakthrough comes through, it can be the most exciting thing ever.
I am experiencing this recently. We have been working on transformations in this class and the students have been really enjoying it. Every student has been working on something at some point in the class, many have been engaged the entire period. They are completing work, asking thoughtful questions, and the biggest success of all occurred yesterday. I gave a quiz on the transformations we have been covering. Only two of my students turned in papers with very little writing. Many of them started out doing their usual quiz thing, writing a couple things down then assuming they couldn’t do any of it. I encouraged them to keep looking and realize that this was exactly what we’ve been doing in class. Soon they were all working. A couple more words of encouragement and they were adding in extras, and going back and writing in things that came to them after they had finished. I am excited and amazed. I was feeling like I would not see any breakthrough at all with this group, it’s the toughest group of students I have dealt with in all my years of teaching. One student even asked me on writing a definition of reflection, “Should we use the one we created in class or come up with a new one?” Right, huh? Son, you just made my day!