Monday, January 21, 2008

Another Heart-Warming Teaching Story

Now, followers of this blog probably know that I am a first year Math Teacher/Residence Don at a private school in the GTA. Now in teaching there are a lot of average days, and some very frustrating days, but there are some days, and moments that simply warm your heart and more than make up for any negative moment. On Thursday, I had one of these moments.

See I had to do late night duty on Wednesday night, which means that I had to ensure that the oldest students in boarding were all snug in their beds, when they lights out is at 11:30pm. Now the very next morning, I had a three and a half straight hours of teaching, starting at 8am. Normally this is a minor inconvenience and grumble of mine, but to top it all off, I was feeling exceptionally sick and tired. Nothing major, just a cold, where I needed some mint tea and a lot of bed rest, two things which I was just not going to get with that kind of schedule. Sure, I could have called it in, but I feel a certain sense of pride in showing up to work feeling bad, I like to feel tough after all.

Now the first two classes went alright, my second period students were being a bit of a chore, but they had in class assignments to work on, so I didn't have to be too involved. But then along came my third period class, Grade 8 math. I had a lesson that I had to teach them on graphing, and there really was no easy way out of it for me.

I knew that I needed to suck up my illness and exhaustion, and just do it.

This is when the projector failed on me, and I was stuck teaching like it was the 20th Century, and I had to use chalk and a chalkboard. Now, for those of you who just know me by the blogosphere, won't know, is that I have horrible, HORRIBLE writing. My students have gotten fairly use to reading it, but there was the added challenge that I needed to draw the graph, and make it accurate enough so that it would make sense to 12 year olds who knew nothing on the subject.

I started drawing a horrible, slanty graph, that I knew the kids just didn't get. To top it all off, my exhaustion and illness were getting the better of me, as I was making frequent mistakes. I still had a good 40 minutes of class to get through, and I knew it was going to feel like an eternity.

Then, a hand raised and one of my students asked me "Are you feeling ok?"

"No, I'm feeling pretty sick and tired, I'm sorry that I'm making mistakes, but I'm trying my best" I decided to answer honestly.

It's wroth mentioning that I just two students, who had just transfered into my class from the advanced stream that my school offers, and had therefore done this before. These two kids, raised their hands and said "Do you want us to teach this?" to which, I thought it was a GREAT idea, I passed them the chalk, and sad down.

These two students proceeded to do the next example, and I would occasionally interject and make sure that certain points were emphasized and what have you. But they ultimately did a fantastic job in covering the lesson.

Then one of the boys in my class looks over to me and says "You can tell that you're an experience teacher. They're not as easy to listen to as you are."

With those simple words, I became energized, and my illness faded away. I was suddenly overcome with a great feeling of relief and clarity.

For all that people complain about "kids these days", there really are some fantastic young people out there who are caring, supportive, and mature beyond their years. They could have very easily just let me screw up, make mistakes, and try to grind my gears to get a reaction. But no, not my students, they decided that they wanted to help me out, make me feel better, and learn something along the way.

While I hope that they learned something from the lesson, I am certain that they ended up teaching me instead.

Until next time,


1 comment:

Ryan said...

Yup totally LOVE it when kids surprise me like that!