Teaching Patience Where There Is None

Jose Vilson Jose 1 Comment

Today, I felt compelled to break down some skills around adding like terms because kids were still a little confused between 3x and x^3. Many adults profess this, too. Yet, anyone who does understand this tend to roll their eyes at those who don’t. For that matter, anyone who gets anything finds it vital to get annoyed at anyone who doesn’t get that thing they get, even when they’re simultaneously getting their eyes rolled at by someone else who understands something they don’t.

That’s where I come in.

Today, as the kids worked on their “Do Now” problem, I noticed a bit of vexation, normal for kids whose mental retention can go from overflowing to flaccid in a matter of a few minutes. Well, except that one kid, who, after learning something once, just gets it. I love that kid because that kid reminds me too much of me, so much so that he too became impatient with someone right next to him who didn’t get it but was trying her best to get it.

“What, you don’t get it? OMG, it’s so easy!”
“I know, it’s right there,” pointing to the board where we already did the problem, “but I want to get it for myself.”
“But look at that, it’s right there! Don’t you see it?!”
“Leave me alone, gosh!”

They went on like this for a few minutes while I monitored the dialogue carefully. I’ve only had them for a couple of months, so I still don’t have their mannerisms down, but I felt it right to interrupt gently.

“Well,” I said to the kid who reminded me of myself, “the best thing you can do right now is let her figure it out. Step back and let her figure it out. When she needs your help, she’ll ask, but for now, let her push.”
“OK, OK.”
“Because I’m really patient with you when you don’t get something right?”
“True.”

And just saying it without yelling it probably resonated with him better than just throwing a teacher tantrum so many of us are prone to when we see situations like that. Many of us can complain all we want, but we need to make better friends with time.

Teachable moments like that won’t show up in the standards, but they set a hell of a standard.

Jose, who doesn’t get enough stories like this.

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 1

Leave a Reply