Well we’ve officially been back in school for a few weeks and the first (but most definitely not the last) common cold of the school year has made its appearance. At the beginning of the year, teachers spend a lot of time in meetings discussing what our students should know by the end of our course. I think this is fantastic. I am a very goal oriented person. I hope by the end of the year, my students have learned all sorts of things about transforming parent graphs, solving systems of equations, and graphing. I hope they walk out my door in June with their brains filled with all sorts of mathematical knowledge. I truly believe math is one of the most beneficial courses a student can take. After all, I say that my math degree makes me a professional problem solver (and mathemagician). However, I hope my kiddos have so much more than equations and formulas in their heads and their hearts when they walk out my door. At the end of the year, it was always more than an SLO, PPG, PDP, STAR Test data, ACT score, and whatever else has made its way into education. I hope they know so much more than math.
I hope my kiddos know they are so loved. I don’t know how parent’s hearts do it. I’ve only had these kids for less than a month and my heart bursts with joy when they share exciting news with me or I see them accomplish things. I am so thrilled to see the people they become this year and truly feel honored to get to be a part of it all. When the world seems dark and dreary, they give me so much hope that they can make it bright and beautiful. Sometimes I can’t believe that I get paid to love on these mini adults all day long. Anyone who has ever heard me talk about my students knows that I think they are the bees knees.
I hope my kiddos know that character will get you so much further in life than the AP Calc exam. I hope them know I want them to succeed in their classes, but at the end of the day, I want them to be good people. I want to see them lift up those around them. I want to see them be brave. I want to see them always try to make the world a little bit better. I want them to know their academic self is just a part of the much bigger picture.
I hope my kiddos know how to laugh at themselves. I hope I teach them this by laughing at myself. I also hope they know that they help me remember to laugh. And not just little laughs. They make me gasp for air laugh. They remind me it doesn’t always have to be so serious. There are many days where I sit at my desk at the end of the day and hope that other people have the opportunity to smile during their workday. They also make my Facebook friends laugh when I post about the funny things they do and say and we could all use a little more laughter.
I hope my kiddos know that we are all human (me included) and that we will make mistakes. There will be days where I am not my best me. I will be cranky, hangry, caffeine deprived, sad, or distracted. I try to leave all of that outside of the classroom but sometimes I fail. I hope that they learn humility from me. I hope they see that when I fall (sometimes literally), that I pick myself up, dust myself off, and continue on, you know, after I fill out the accident report because that may or may not have happened. I hope they see that I can admit when I was wrong, whether I forgot a negative sign or told a kid to put his phone away when it was actually his calculator (OOPS!). I hope they know that their mistakes from yesterday do not have to be who they are today.
I hope my kiddos know how to deal with people who aren’t their favorites. I’m realistic enough to know that not every student who walks through my door is going to be a fan of me. I’ve had a few come up with some rather creative ways to get their points across (on those days, I dig the kind words from students out of my desk and dig into my candy stash). However, I hope they know that I still have something important to share with them. I hope they learn to work with group members that they don’t see eye to eye with, because every adult will tell you that life is basically one giant group project, and you’re never going to be able to like everyone, as hard as you might try.
I hope my kiddos know to stand up to a challenge. Math is hard. High school is hard. Life is hard. I hope they learn not to give up on something just because it won’t be easy. Persevering through problem solving is not just one of the Mathematical Processes. It is a way of life.
I hope my kiddos know they inspire me. Everyday I see students face difficult situations. I see them balance their coursework, jobs, extracurriculars, family, friends, and the trauma that is being a teenager. I see them lift each other up. I see them aspire to live out their dreams. I see them truly believe they can do anything they set their minds to. When the news hurts my heart, they give me hope that maybe we aren’t all doomed. How could we be with such an incredible group of young people ready to take on the world?
I hope my kiddos learn about passion from me. I hope they can see it in my daily life. I hope they know I am passionate about them, about math, about my job, and about life. I hope it inspires them to find something they are passionate about.
So yes, I hope by the end of the year, 90% of my students are proficient at solving a system of equations. I intend on getting all of my seniors across that graduation stage, even if I have to drag a few of them. I hope their brains are filled with academic knowledge. However, I hope they know so much more about the things that no textbook could ever cover.