I spent many years believing that I was bad at math. If you asked me my least favorite subject, I’d be quick to tell you how much I loved science and the humanities and that math was terrifying and I hated it. It started in middle school and extended until my early 20s when math became an important part of my life.
Turns out, I’m really good at math. And I LOVE it. So where did this fear come from?
I had a teacher who ruined math for me. Someone who was supposed to open my eyes to its wonder left me with a bad aftertaste. It wasn’t until I met my sweet friend, Christine, a high school math teacher, and saw the love and passion she brings to the subject and the way that she cares deeply for her students that I started to fall in love. Now, I teach math, among other things, and I relish in imparting my love of learning to my students.
I knew that when I signed on for this teaching gig, I wasn’t going to change every student’s life. I’m not going to churn out a group of future scientists every single year. I’ll still have students who hate science, who fear math, who believe that learning about the rock cycle was a waste of time and fail to see how my class was about more than just the phases of the moon.
I won’t reach every kid. I’m realistic enough to understand this and idealistic enough to try anyway.
And then I got a call from the parent of one of my students. After a recent tutoring session, in which I realized that she wasn’t understanding because she just doesn’t take in information aurally, I left her in tears. Instead of holding my tongue and speaking privately to her parents, I expressed my concerns in front of this student. I forgot, for a minute that she’s just a kid and that my words have the ability to tear her down much faster than they can build her up.
Suddenly, I was that teacher whose careless actions could affect a student for years to come.
The worst part? It won’t be the last time this happens. There will be other casualties. Other times I say something thoughtless and break a heart, though never on purpose. I’m only human and I make mistakes. I could swear up and down that I’ll never say anything hurtful again, but it would be an empty promise.
Teachers aren’t required to take an oath, but I can strive for a purpose. First, do no harm…