As the school year comes to a close, teachers are busy getting students ready to take their final exams. As an algebra teacher, there are comments I know I can count on. The main one at the end of the year is, “This is hard.” If you can say that in a whiny, sulky, sullen teenage voice, you’re getting the picture of what my most struggling (and generally laziest) students say.
The lazy part sounds harsh. I’d never say that to a student, but the truth cannot be denied. My struggling students who pass out in time and effort. They commit to getting extra help and seeing things through. They look back to similar problems and try things that might or might not work. What they don’t do is sit there complaining about how hard what they’ve been given to do is. These students not only grow mathematically, they also grow more confident, more resilient, and truly more beautiful throughout the year. By exam time, they already know they will be asked to do hard things. They know they will not be able to do every one of those hard things right, but they know they will do their best and can be humbly proud of their results.
My complainers are very much the opposite by exam time. They are sullen and panicked, accusatory and…dare u say it??? Failures at lessons far greater than algebra. My whiners are increasingly students of privilege not based on skin color but on entitlement but on family entitlement.
One of the reasons I like teaching algebra despite not being a so called “math person,” is for the work out it gives my brain, the challenge of finding an entry point into a problem, and the commitment to finding the next step, and the next step, and the next step until it’s done. When a no excuses, finish the race attitude is adopted no excuses provide exit ramps. Rather than causing issues, this cuts our distractions and clears the path toward our goal.
The truth is algebra is hard. I won’t deny that, but I won’t complain about it either. I will be grateful for the challenge it offers and pray my students see the Blessings in the opportunity presented. Algebra is not a stand alone skill. While the end of the year ends with complaints about how hard the questions have gotten, next year will predictably begin with complaints about, “When will we ever need this stuff anyway?”
my answer tit hat will be the same as it’s always been. You will need the skills you gain in algebra every day of your life because life is hard. Living is hard. Failing is hard. Succeeding is hard. Finding hope is hard. Praying when you feel empty is hard. Letting go is hard. Humility is hard. Losing is hard. Winning is hard. Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. Working is hard. Loving is hardest of all.
And hard is good. It is through perseverance, commitment, and self discipline that we grow.
Humbly do what is hard and be grateful for the effort.
Gratitude Journal – June 9, 2023
Thank You Lord for…
- Ending the year.
- Cookies baked for my students.
- Having enough flour.
- Finding the chocolate chips.
- Making it to school on time!
- C and S who I loved having in class for one year. Bless them on their move and May we all see them again in Heaven one day!
- E who will transfer and E who may move. Thank you for their smiles and their hard work and the love I have for them that has grown this year. Lord please watch over them and help them grow in love for you.
- For all my students who I pray I will see again next year. For B who stopped in to say goodbye even though I did not have much time to talk with him for so many students who I hold so close in my heart this year.
- For the gaggle of sobbing teenage girls who sobbed and hugged goodbye outside my room and for my not sobbing and joining in with them.
- For G and E who stayed after school to talk with me and for G who wants to be a math teacher now. God I love these kids!!!
- For getting my work organized and papers filed in peace after school.
- For C telling me that my staying late will not help my students on their state Regents exam next week and basically giving me “permission” to go home.
- For chatting with her in the parking lot and hearing about her parents and thinking of the amazing and inspirational stories they must have.
- fFor feeling so much freer on my ride home than I’ve felt in months.
- For the Bible study and sharing the cookies I’d forgotten to give to my classes with the people their and Father I.
- For the John Quincy Adams book on teaching his son about the Bible, a copy for Father I and for me.
- For texting B.
- For C attacking my car as I sat texting! Hahahahahahahahaha.
- For his happiness and funniness and just so much love I have in my heart for him and his friends!!!
- He made my day, week, month, year, and gave me Will to go on another day!
- For being in the right time and place – thank you Lord!
- For putting aside all of said I’d do and choosing sleep instead.
- Thank you Jesus!!!