Thursday, September 8, 2016

An open letter to an entity unlikely to respond

Dear 8th grade class: I am tired. Something about repeating the answer to #7 eleven times makes me dream of a vacation on the beach far away from the madding crowd of your youthful self-centered egos. I just want to speak in normal tones of voice to a room of 20 students. I don't want to yell. I'm not going to yell anymore. 

Today when I sat with my back turned to you and typed, it never occurred to you that time was being wasted. That I was doing this to prove a point. My fault, because I know you are not intuitive and you do not care. Perhaps tomorrow on the test you will care.

The worst part? The Algebra I class I get to teach every year, and when I say "get to teach" I mean it, is always, hands-down, my favorite part of my day and my year. I love my Algebra I students. They tend to be nerdy and fun and a little bit deviant but in the nerdiest most creative way. But something went wrong with your class. Some of you individually may be lovely people, but I can't find a way in. You talk and talk and interrupt me while I teach, while I answer other students' questions, while I attempt to impart a little bit of skill and knowledge to you in order to give 9th grade just a little bit of space for you, a break in your day when math isn't your hardest subject--I know this works. Ask the current sophomores and juniors. My methods work. My teaching works. But for some reason it doesn't work for you.

And I'm sad about it. I'm a little sad for you when you must hear older and younger students talk about me and my classes and it's not your experience. I'm not fun for you. It could be that we bring out the worst in each other. Or it could be that it's you, not me. Because it usually brings out the best in all of us.

But I know you cannot change. You are counting the days until graduation already, here in the week of Labor Day. So I will grind Algebra I into your brains, you will not care, we will fail to connect, and you will move on to high school. I hope it's better for you.

And now, I go teach 7th grade pre-algebra. full of awesome quirky kids and bright funny girls and boys who can't believe they are in the honors math section. When people talk over me, it's on topic or it's out of excitement or happiness and conversational. It is never a sly look over the shoulder and then turning to talk to a friend, ignoring the lesson.

And then asking again what the answer to #7 is.

With warm regards,
Your teacher