Friday, November 12, 2010


Since I've started this new job.... oh, hang on a minute. For those of you keeping track or need a score card, since I've returned from the Wild West 23 months ago, I've:
  • been a substitute teacher
  • been a special ed. aide on a 1 year contract only, due to grant funding which ran out- for a junior high school
  • scooped ice cream
  • been an insurance telemarketer
  • taught summer school at Alcatraz
  • filled a 7 week maternity leave as an English teacher at Alcatraz
  • part time photographer assistant (I shoot jobs as the assignments are available)
  • am a part time receptionist on weekends at Alcatraz
NOW I work at a high school as a special education aide. This is the job I am talking about in this post.

As I was saying, since I started THIS job, one class I've been assigned to is an Algebra I class; actually I'm in the class two periods a day with different kids, obviously, but same teacher and same lecture each day. I should point out that I do not have a sterling math background.

When I was in 8th grade I took one semester of pre-algebra and failed. Then when I was in 9th grade I took one semester of Algebra I and failed so I took the rest of the year as pre- algebra and barely passed. In my sophomore year, I took Algebra I and got a D-. In my junior year I took Geometry I and got a D- and I think it was because I cried most days and the teacher felt sorry for me. (And didn't ever want me in his class again!) My college math career wasn't much better. I took a "History of Math" and managed a C. Then I took Chem I, and earned a C. I also took Physics I and received a D-... again, more crying and more Professors not wanting me back again. So in my life, I have been "math-disabled" as well as "math-phobic."

So you can imagine my fear when I was told I was assigned to Algebra I. Twice a day. To HELP kids learn it. OMG! I go to class, I take copious notes, I do the homework... yes, I actually DO the homework, even though I have an answer key. I ask questions and I even go for "homework" help. I mean, please...! I'm assigned there to help my students. What good am I if I can't help anyone? It cracks me up (and makes me feel like a dolt) when the kid next to me, that I'm supposed to be helping, by the way, looks over at my work, and points out my errors and tells me, "You're doing it wrong!"

All that being said, I now have a confession. And Bragger, no I told you so-s, please! I am actually liking it. I like the thought process. I like the solutions. I like puzzling it out. I like that something I've not understood for 25 years is suddenly making sense. I like getting the right answer. I like that there is a right answer. I like the absoluteness of the math. I like KNOWING, and I like knowing I can do it. I'm slow and I have to do all the steps, but I. can. do. it!!!!!! Ok, when it comes to story problems, I'm still as helpless as I was when I was 15 years old. But I can find the slope intersects, the y-intercept. I can solve proportions and set them up. I can solve semi-complex equations with at least 2 variables. I can also do all this with whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and integers. I can graph. I can solve for X. I understand and can use "rise over run". I am liking it.

I think I like it because it's the only thing I do during the course of the day that actually makes me think, that lets me flex my brain muscle, that lets me think.

And because I am NOT a "math" person, I have other non math people asking me to explain stuff. Yes, they ask ME to explain Algebra. I'll give you a moment to get yourselves under control. Go ahead... I'll wait.

I was explaining to two girls who are taking Algebra I for the third time. And when I explain it, they get it. I told them to think of negative numbers as money or as of pairs of shoes they are trading. I told them to remember that the sun rises so rise is on top of the fraction and run goes on the bottom. I told them to graph the points in two colors so they can SEE the math.

The math teacher said I would have an A- in his class right now if I was taking it for credit, and he laughed. But I think the man was serious. Sometimes I get so caught up in learning it, I raise my hand to give an answer and the kids laugh. Ooops! I wish I could replace that high school math grade on my transcript, dang it! Mac wanted to know why I didn't learn this 2 years ago when he was taking math and struggling along; he thought he could've passed with a higher grade!

I can't believe it either. Me & math. Who knew? I know! I don't lie. I just am shocked! It's just... weird. Math. Wow.

With age comes wisdom... finally!


Curley said...

Way to go. Shows that if you put your mind to something you can learn at any age. Now if I could just figure out Windows 7. Don't laugh.

Gulo said...

I really do enjoy math, also. If it weren't for science, i would be a total math freak. I am trying to find an online physics class. FUN!!! Geeks Rule!