Teaching #goals

For the last 2.5 months, since school re-opened, my students have been fighting tooth and nail for me to teach them. 

You see, I’ve taught most of these boys since the middle school opened, and all they know is me, and they finally enjoyed maths, began to comprehend it and even excel in it beyond their “expectation”. I use inverted commas there because, to be honest, I’m not a fan of living by an expectation. Let alone telling a child “this is what you’re expected to achieve by the end of the year”. I believe this limits a child and also adds unnecessary pressure and makes it all about the destination as opposed to the journey. Because, let’s be frank, I’m the one that’s going to be dealing with them for about 200 out of the 365 days in the year. I need them to embrace the journey – for both our sakes, dammit!

So this year, students have doubled, and so have staff. Which meant that I’d be saying goodbye to many of my students that I’ve bonded with and ignited a love for math. 

That also meant that some may not be so happy about the change. 

And they made it known!

Two months of emails and phone calls asking me “why why why I don’t teach their son?” Towards the end, I just did not bother responding. My last comment was, “it’s physically impossible for me to teach all 3 of your sons whom are in different grades, considering 2 are being taught at the same time. 1 out of 3 isn’t so bad I guess?!”

Parents weren’t happy. Students weren’t happy. It began to impact on their teacher 👨‍🏫 which of course is totally unfair because it was nothing personally about him. But the boys saw it as “he is the reason we don’t have Ms Nabila” and were just not able (or willing) to have a remotely decent teacher-student relationship with him.

Grade 9 is the highest boys class we currently have and will be going into the diploma programme soon which is a much more advanced and challenging course. So the parents weren’t playing about and decided to go straight to the principle. 
Not one. Not two. But the majority of both grade 9 classes were in his office for near enough every single day. He even had the students there. Promising they’d work so hard if he allowed me to teach them. Until he finally made the decision. 

It was here-say for a couple weeks, until I was told that I’d be given the older boys to teach instead of the younger ones. 

Now, to any teachers who has worked hard in building a student-teacher relationship with about 75 kids I’m about to lose – nothing would tick them off quicker! However, in hindsight, the new timetable was better for me, as that meant less classes and less students. So I was able to fully focus on those students without having the over burdening hours of teaching throughout most of the day!

They sold it to me by saying “the students really really really *want* to learn and are eager for u to teach them”.

That’s music to a teachers ears. 

The equivalent to:

“Yes! He’s alive!!” To a doctor. 

“We made it!!” To a pilot after a turbulent journey. 

“The coffee was perfect!” To a barrister. 

So the principal worked on a new timetable for the entire middle school over the course of 1 week. 

Sunday morning. The boys got what they asked for. I walked to my room to find them all lined up by my door. 

*On time!*

I invited them in before giving them a speech about how much the school has accommodated their wants and needs and to be appreciative and to promise to work hard. 

They all complied and thanked me for agreeing. 

Then…we got stuck in. 

“Solving equations and inequalities with variable on both sides.”

This was, by far…The. Best. Lesson. I have ever had. 

No silence, students working together, great conversations and debates about why “we must use the inverse operation in order to solve for x” And “how to represent an inequality on a number line” and if there was more than one way to show that. 

So we decided to have a discussion about that as a plenary. 

The boys went onto to explain their own learning outcomes and how it related to the unit overview. It was a 1st class lesson. 

Not because of me…but them!

Oh how I wish every one of my lessons were like this. 

*Where students were eager to learn. 

*where they asked questions that related to the topic. 

*Where I need not raise my voice to get there attention. 

*Where Maths just made sense and not make them want to bang their heads against the wall. 

*Where they never constantly asked “but when will I ever use algebra in my life?” Without actually wanting an answer. 

*Where they wouldn’t use the compass as a pretend weapon instead of drawing a circle. 

*Where they wouldn’t constantly ask me “do I have to show my working?”

Now….this is real #Goals!!

I’m not there yet – but I plan to be. Even if it takes me 20 years!!

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