Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 21 2009

Why I Teach

Today wasn’t a wonderful day in any typical sense of the word (I still woke up too early, my kids were still hard to handle, and my classes still have way too many students…) but I was really glad to be there today.

We’re working on taking word problems, writing algebraic equations/inequalities/expressions from them, and then solving. My kids struggle with both math and reading, so I’ve been dreading this for weeks. Yet we’ve been working patiently through it and slowly building up for three days, and today so many of them did the grade-level work that I am STUNNED. One of the class clowns, who can throw the class off-track forever if he’s in the mood, decided to sit quietly on his own and work hard. He got the whole page right. Then I watched my student who literally cannot order integers (75 or 30, which one is bigger? She guesses 30) carefully and methodically work her way through solving an equation to find x. I was staring at her so earnestly as she did it that she thought she was about to get in trouble. I almost cried.

I worked afterschool with this same student today, who finally admitted to me that she has no idea what multiplication and division ARE. She hears 4 x 5 = 20 and it means nothing to her. They are 3 numbers arbitrarily put together and she’s supposed to magically remember how to recite them. I’m a little furious that she’s made it this far without anyone ever stopping to explain that to her, but we did it today. We sat on my floor after everyone had left and played with little tiles, making groups of numbers and watching how multiplication and division work together. She needs WAY more than that, but it was a start.

While we were watching 4×3 become 12, she casually confessed to me that one of my eighth grade students is pregnant. I’m pretty attached to the student, who used to constantly be in my room after school to chat about life and avoid going home. She hasn’t been there in awhile and I’d been wondering why… this is probably my answer. I’m heartbroken by the news, and also have NO IDEA what to do (or what I’m legally allowed to do… they have some pretty strict laws on the topic in good old Arizona). I know kids get pregnant, and I know it happens young, but it’s terrifying to put a face to that and realize how much of a problem this could be for someone I’m really attached to. Figuring out how to handle this is my project for tomorrow.

So my kids are crazy, impossible to manage, way below grade level, and possibly pregnant… but I was looking for a job where I could really have an impact, and I’m pretty sure I’ve found it.

One Response

  1. Holy. Crap. Taht´s hardcore.

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