12

October 2, 2014

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We were just diving into a new lesson, and I had worked up, in a series of questions, to the most challenging mental math problem. The usual responders gave a series of wrong attempts. I was about to tell them all the answer and move on to the lesson itself when Joe shouted out « 12! » I stopped. The others looked at him, shocked to hear him speak up for anything other than some sort of goofing-off. Then a few began to nod, and agree. « Yeah, that’s right! » One started cheering and clapped him on the back. Others clapped. It was too good to be true. I couldn’t resist pausing in mid-sentence and beaming at him for a moment, before announcing « Yep, that’s right—12! »
See, this was the one I was worried about. Just that morning, before school, I had breathed a pra_yer asking for help knowing how to support him. Knowing my own limitations as a classroom teacher, I was at a loss as to how to offer the “creative” help I had promised to his parents.
This was one who replied in the following manner on my beginning-of-the-year student survey:

In math I feel dumb.
If I have a test in math I feel worried.
The area I struggle in math is everything.
My past experiences in math have been Bad because i don’t like math
.

I guess you never know what’s going to happen in the classroom, on any given day. I thought this problem was something I had to figure out myself. Somehow. Some way. Turns out, « creative help » came one its own, nothing doing on my part! Granted, there’s still a long way to go between here and there on the math grades track for this kid. But a little twinge of shining hope is there.
When I left work this afternoon, I took a detour to walk around the track. My husband and I used to do these afternoon walks regularly, often barefoot. But lately we have been just business-oriented. I was telling him the other day that I thought we should do something that wasn’t necessarily productive. We « do life » well together but, in the routine of workdays, it is so easy to get into the habit of just taking care of the business of life and not doing things just to do them together. So today, before I left work I asked if he would join me for a barefoot walk, for old time’s sake. As I waited for him to arrive, I looked up and saw an amazing display of silver-rimmed cloud. I was quite sure my phone couldn’t get anywhere near to capturing it, but I couldn’t resist an attempt. Turns out, it captured pretty well :-)

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