Alright, so in the name of honestly, and being encouraged by Kelsey's blog, here's how I'm currently feeling. I don't love math. I've always been able to pretty easily understand math concepts and get good grades on the test, but I've never really enjoyed it. Throughout the last few weeks I've been on a journey (as a junior in college) to figure out what I want to do with my life. For a while, I thought teaching was cool, and although I was never 100% hooked on it, it was my plan. I don't quite know what my plan is now. In this blog, I'm going to expand on some of those thoughts, and I'm going to talk about why this math class, and a couple others I've really enjoyed, was different for me.
First of all, I should clarify something. When I say I've never really enjoyed math, I mean that I've never been the type to totally "nerd out" about some math concept and learn extra than I have to about a specific math concept. BUT, I have liked math classes. I've had some awesome math teachers, and I've found a few common trends with these teachers.
From my experience, every good teacher is passionate about at least two specific things. (Hopefully more too, but at least two to make them a good teacher). They must be passionate about their subject area and their students. When I took geometry during my primary education years, my teacher & I did not get along very well. Both teachers I had for Algebra I & II, I loved. If you were to ask me if I'm more of a "geometry person" or an "algebra person", I would easily say the latter. Coincidence? I think not.
Those awesome teachers I had both loved math. And when I say they loved it, I mean they loved it. They would talk about it in conversation out of class, and you just saw they joy they had getting to teach it.
These teachers also loved their students. They wanted their students to do well not for the district assessment, for their payroll, or anything like that necessarily, but rather because they wanted their students to grasp the passion they had for math, and have that passion too. They loved the students they were teaching. There definitely is a place for people who love math and don't love the people aspect of it as much, but that place is not a classroom.
As I have been processing these things, the main reason I'm rethinking this whole teaching thing is because, if I'm being honest (which I am), I lack one of those. If you know me at all, you'd have no doubt that I LOVE people. But, as I mentioned, I don't absolutely love math. I want to be doing something I'm passionate about. Maybe, at some point, God will instill more of a passion for math in me than I have now, but at this point, He hasn't quite given me that part of the teaching passion.
Moving on to a slightly different topic though, I want to talk about why I still enjoyed this class. A math education class: a subject I don't necessarily love with a career I don't necessarily want to go into. So why did I still like it? Because my professor is passionate about math and passionate about people. He is a professor that desires relationship with his students, strives to build personal connection, and loves math (I'm talking going to math conferences, writing math blogs, participating in math-topic Twitter gatherings...you name it). Both of the passions, check. Enjoyable class, check. If you're not convinced yet, then I don't know what else I can do to convince you!
This class has involved so many fun ways to express these math ideas. We did many Desmos activities, played many online quiz games, had lots of discussion, and wrote a few blogs. This professor found a way to combine the math with the relationship. How sweet is that?
Another thing I love about this class: the professor is a facilitator, not an encyclopedia of information. Any idea you had of only students asking the questions, forget it. The professor would propose an intriguing question, and boom, awesome, animated class discussion.
Nothing we did in this class encouraged a fixed mindset. Everything told us to view things in a different way, see the multiple ways of doing it, open your eyes to new possibilities, even to old ideas.
During a recent conversation, someone said something to me along these lines: "If your passion for your students outweighs your dislike for things like writing lesson plans, you're gonna be a good teacher." If this professor doesn't have that kind of passion for students, then you have me stumped on who does. I don't just say that just because he's the one grading this, although he is, but because I truly think there should be more professors who love to teach what they are teaching as much as this guy.
And honestly, I'm not writing the blog for the grade. If I get a zero on this assignment, I don't plan on changing it. I'm writing it because I believe these things, I want to be honest with my thoughts, and maybe it's even another type of processing for me as I try to figure out this life, Outside the Glass Tank.