“A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others.”
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, translated from Turkish
Today I reached one of my objectives for the year. I got an additional job. It’s not the job I put on my list of goals for the year. It’s not a writing job. But it’s a job I’m excited about doing. I’m going to be working with middle school students who are having trouble with math. This will be an after-school program. I’m pretty excited and pretty nervous. I want to do well and I want to be a blessing to the kids and to my new principal. I want to help all of these kids do better in and, more importantly, feel better about math.
When I taught math at Kelsey-Jenney College, my goal was to help students feel more confident in math. My own lack of confidence and understanding caused me a lot of trouble in my middle-school years. In the 7th grade, because of problems in algebra and geometry (and my lack of study), I had all my comic books taken away. It was heartbreaking. Overall, 7th grade was one of the worst years of my life and most of my problems were because of school.
After 7th grade, I never took anything more difficult than basic algebra. I made an inner vow that I would never allow my comic books to be taken away again because of math. As a result of that vow I never moved beyond basic algebra in my whole life.
As an adult, I often regretted this decision. Since then, math has never been a priority for me, but it has bothered me at least a little that I don’t know calculus or any other kind of math beyond the most basic geometry. I’ve never been able to help my daughter with her math homework and it has always felt like a bit of a gap and like a minor liability. At this point, I could go back to school and catch up, but I choose not to. I have other priorities now.
But I would like to help these kids not go through what I went through. This is part of Purpose – to help make life better for others. Love, kindness, success and happiness all move through lives like ripples in a pond. By making school better for the kids I will be serving, perhaps I will be making their family lives better too. Perhaps school will be better for them in the future. Perhaps they will make more courageous academic choices than I did.
This is why I need to do well in this new assignment. For better or worse, I make a difference. We all do. We all need to Get Started and Keep Going.