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When it Clicks

Clicking Seatbelt

I teach math. Everybody’s favorite subject … to hate.

Nothing gives me more satisfaction in my job than when what I am teaching finally clicks with the student. I teach students that love math and I teach more students that hate math. I have to say that the satisfaction level is greater when a hater uses the math I teach them outside of the classroom. But, I am also very pleased when it is a lover. I want to share two recent examples (this has been a happy semester!).

First was in math explorations, a class for liberal arts students. The entire class is real world problem solving. There’s a lot of grumbling in the class, but most students will tell you that they can see using the math they are learning in the future outside of the mathematics classroom. A couple of weeks ago one student excitedly told me she was teaching her boyfriend the math she was learning in our class. She told me that her boyfriend is in my calculus III class. She was excited that he did not know the math she was teaching him that I had taught her. She was excited because they were going to put that math into practice by prepaying a car loan a little each month. I smiled for days after this discussion!

Example two was in the calculus III class just yesterday. My students were taking a test. Since my students test in pairs there is a lot of discussion happening during the test and since my students don’t seem to know how to whisper, I can listen in. All semester I have been hounding these lovers of math that they must make it make sense. Answers must be reasonable and just because they used a certain formula or method does not mean the answer will be. I was listening to two young men talking about a problem on the test, they were arguing about it when one said, “But this answer just does not make sense. It can’t possibly be this number because …” Another winner! Even if this student does not figure out the correct answer to this question, he does know that his answer is not correct.

My smile shines on! It is a good semester!

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