## Is it Friday yet?

August 27, 2012 by mslcbillings

Ok, so it’s not so much devotion that I question, but more, um, ability. Nor is it a tough day, but rather a tough student.

Last year I had a student who made me really question what I was doing trying to be a teacher when most people are looking forward to retirement. He started the year kind of Hemingwayesque, very literal and repetitive, but by the half way mark, he was starting to be more Kafkaesque. And I started getting worried. About his grasp on reality. About my decision to change careers. On the days he really pushed my frustration buttons, I really questioned whether I was the right person to teach a class in which he was enrolled. And of course that made me question whether I should be teaching at all. He really brought out all my first year doubts.

Was it vainglorious of me to think that I, who failed both Calculus II and Statistics the first time I took them (almost 25 years ago), knew enough math to teach it? Who ~~was~~ ~~am~~ was I fooling? See, he still makes me question my ability to teach math. Why math, why didn’t I just go with language arts? I never failed one of those classes. Or try for elementary level, where at least I know the math? Sigh, the doubts are still there and not helped by the inferiority complex I get after reading in the MathBloggerTwittersphere about all the great things math teachers are doing.

Fortunately, my mentor often behaved like an avuncular aunt and offered gentle encouragement while mentioning specific things that I do well. Hey, there are things I do well. Thank god! My principal jumped in on the act and offered excellent feedback while at the same time stroking my ego. He has a deft touch and I always walk away from his feedback with a clear idea of what I need to work on, some possible directions for improving, and what I have been doing well and should continue doing. So when I’m really down about my teaching, I talk to my mentor or review the great feedback I have received, and then I move on.

I have to admit, though, I would rather eat okra and grits than have another student like this one. I jumped for joy (mentally) when I got my rosters for this year and he was nowhere to be seen.

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on September 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm |[NBI] Week two of the Math Blogging Initiation « Quantum Progress[…] a blog named Leslie Billings Forever Student. The second post for the Blogging Initiation is titled Is it Friday yet? and the author sums it up as follows: This post is about how a difficult student can make me […]

on September 2, 2012 at 3:14 pm |mslcbillingsI should, perhaps, be a little clearer about how long I have been teaching. I am just starting my second year as a teacher; I worked for an insurance agency after college. Fortunately, the highest level I am teaching is Algebra I; Calculus is too distant a memory for me to be able to teach it. One of my goals is to find a way to freshen my upper level math skills without spending a fortune on classes.

on February 26, 2013 at 9:17 pm |StephanieHi, Leslie,

I came across your blog via David Wees, and as a fellow mathematics educator I thought you might be able to help in spreading the word about an educational TV show for preteens about math that we’re putting together. “The Number Hunter” is a cross between Bill Nye The Science Guy and The Crocodile Hunter — bringing math to children in an innovative, adventurous way. I’d really appreciate your help in getting the word out about the project.

I studied math education at Jacksonville University and the University of Florida. It became clear to me during my studies why we’re failing at teaching kids math. We’re teaching it all wrong! Bill Nye taught kids that science is FUN. He showed them the EXPLOSIONS first and then the kids went to school to learn WHY things exploded. Kids learn about dinosaurs and amoeba and weird ocean life to make them go “wow”. But what about math? You probably remember the dreaded worksheets. Ugh.

I’m sure you know math is much more exciting than people think. Fractal Geometry was used to create “Star Wars” backdrops, binary code was invented in Africa, The Great Pyramids and The Mona Lisa, wouldn’t exist without geometry.

Our concept is to create an exciting, web-based TV show that’s both fun and educational.

If you could consider posting about the project on your blog, I’d very much appreciate it. Also, if you’d be interested in link exchanging (either on The Number Hunter site, which is in development, or on StatisticsHowTo.com which is a well-established site with 300,000 page views a month) please shoot me an email. We’re also always looking for input and ideas from other math educators!

Thanks in advance for your help,

Stephanie

andalepublishing@gmail.com

http://www.thenumberhunter.com

http://www.statisticshowto.com