Catchin’ Wreck

Jose VilsonEducation, Resources2 Comments

Big Pun

No, no, no. I don’t want to hear that you can’t do the math. Unless you have some actual, vetted proof that you have a serious case of dyscalculia, I just won’t hear that you can’t do the math. Wherever their level, whatever their stance in life, wherever they land on the math knowledge spectrum, I have to have the belief that they can do the math at a high level.

This mentality probably started right around the fifth time I heard the whining and bickering by teachers in a professional development. First, I wondered where, under the word “professional development,” it was decided that these places had long couches and clipboards available for the rest of us to hear the kvetching about nonsense. Secondly, I can’t imagine that a student, once nudged in the right direction, won’t be able to at least glean some of the material I’m teaching.

Third, and most importantly, negativity is a disease without a vaccine. It’s one thing to look at a student’s situation with realistic and critical eyes, looking for some clues about how best to address the child’s needs. However, you’re not gonna stick me in a conversation where “can’t do this” and “never will be able to” is part of the discussion. I’m either extremely stubborn, stubbornly naive, or naively hoping that we as teachers can stop focusing on the negative and accentuate the positive.

You’d think I asked for too much when we discuss strategy, standards, or achievement for our students, as if finding things students can actually do would upset the natural order of the drag we know as “teacher meeting.” I refuse to sit through the next two decades (at least) of my career with people constantly harping on student deficiencies. We can shake our heads for a few seconds, discuss our outreach to parents and guardians for another few seconds, and feel a bit of frustration for another few seconds. Take that minute and feel better on it.

But don’t suck me into your whirlwind, because the next person that does is catchin’ wreck. Word to Big Pun.


Comments 2

  1. I am honest enough to admit that I did not learn math until I attended college. I have struggled with this particular course for years. However, when I attended college this time around my instructors were really good teachers. I actually feel pretty good about my math skills on most days.

    I think that students should be encouraged even when they think that this is not their strong suit subject. They may learn like I did that if the problems are clearly explained and there are opportunities to work on solving problems it just might change their minds.

  2. I second your emotion Jose. I teach music and I see the same thing when teachers are together. While students can be challenging, I find it hard to find a student who genuinely considers themselves lesser than those around them. I find that students generally think of themselves as smart as those around them (a lot like us teachers). When a student finds an objective challenging and they may say the dreaded I “can’t do” something. As a teacher, when I hear “can’t”, it translates into my head as, “I’m going to be really proud of myself when I figured this out.” They just don’t know it yet.

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