Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 04 2010

Hide your fourth graders

On Sundays, I spend all day waitressing. I know that’s complete insanity when I already can’t find enough hours to get everything done, but it actually perversely might be what’s keeping me sane. I’m more productive when I’m busier. The extra spending money keeps me from worrying about finances. And having a large group of people in Arizona who don’t know me as a teacher (or who think it’s hilarious that I teach) is absolutely worth a few lost hours of sleep.

Every now and then, the teacher in me comes out at the restaurant…like today, when I had a little kid at one of my tables. He asked how old I was and I told him, and he was very excited that his teacher was my same age. Then I asked his grade, and he said he was in fourth grade. Fourth grade?! Funny, that’s my pet peeve grade. That’s the grade where kids should be able to “demonstrate fluency of multiplication and division facts through 12″, and yet somehow that’s the number one deficit that hinders my teaching in 8th grade. I never ever turn down an opportunity to encourage multiplication with fourth graders (I had a long talk with my old hairdresser about it when I found out he had a fourth grade son also), and here was no exception. I ignored all my other customers and started quizzing this kid on his times tables, which he was very proud to show off. With his parents listening, I explained to him that he needed to practice these every day until he knew them like the back of his hand, and then he’d be a champ at math by the eighth grade (yes, these are my standards). Then I let it out that I’m a math teacher…jaws dropped and the parents practically started taking notes (and doubled my tip). We kept quizzing on math facts until the kid was satisfied that I was impressed by him, and then I went back to my job.

Wherever he is, that little boy had better be practicing his times tables right now.

One Response

  1. Jeff Jordan

    With a doubled tip, I think you might let more customers in on your little secret!

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