“When I grow up”

(that’s a jolly good song by the way!).

When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up, but as soon as I did my work experience at the hospital with my dad, that changed and I wanted to be a doctor like my dad.  I saw the way he was with his patients and the way his colleagues respected him and I wanted to be a doctor like that.

Needless to say, I am not a doctor after all, but a teacher.  (Or at least trying to be).  And the advantage of teaching is that through 18 years of education, one ends up with a fair few role models.  There’s so many teachers, mainly from secondary school, who played a part not only in helping me achieve the grades I got, but also in me becoming the mathematician and person that I am today.  Despite looking a fool in front of my less-than-impressed year eights and the head of faculty, I proudly showed them the way I was taught to remember the difference between area and perimeter, with Mr Swan’s famous “AREA PER-IM-ET-ER” chanting on Friday.  I’ve not yet made all my students pick up new textbooks and ceremoniously open and sniff them (Dr Thornber!), but I’m sure that day will come too!

And of course, I want to be a maths teacher like my mum.  To be as good as my mum at coming up with ideas and explaining things.  I love telling my students anecdotes about how I’ve pinched a worksheet from Mrs Cave Senior (a nickname that for some reason she’s not a big fan of), or how if it was the other Miss Cave teaching them, she’d be pronouncing “power” like “parrrrr”.

And I will have to stop writing at once before I get any more sentimental about the good old days at Durham Johnston!

Hilarious things my students say and do.

On Fridays I do ‘Prize Friday’ with my students, so today I said “it’s Friday, what happens on Fridays?”.  Instead of my expected response of “Prize Friday”,  a year seven boy just said “get drunk”.  (I think he meant that that’s what teachers do on Friday, as opposed to him).  The same student who randomly asked me out of the blue in the middle of a task about working out powers on a calculator if I’d ever dumped a boyfriend via text.  He was keen to tell me that he had dumped his girlfriend via text.  Once Prize Friday got under-way, the entire class were falling over themselves to give me an answer to the prize question.  Even when I said I was taking no more suggestion until after they’d packed up, they were still so eager that they were coming up to the front of the classroom to give me suggestions (perhaps thinking that if they were out of their seats, I wouldn’t notice that they had not packed up?!)

I have another student who does an excellent impression of the “ain’t nobody got time for dat” woman, and will do it at any opportunity.  His classmate has a crutch at the moment, leading to another of the students christening it a ‘crip-stick’ (I deemed it to not be meant or taken in an offensive manner, so didn’t challenge it), to the point where when I tried to say something about the crutch I couldn’t think of any word other than “crip-stick” so had to pause and mentally search for the politically correct word.

One of my favourite moments of the day was winding my year sevens up by getting them to find the square root of minus one on a calculator (they get really panicked that they’ve done something wrong when it says ‘math error’), and I told them that at our level, we can’t find a square root of minus one and explained why, but I like to get them excited about higher level maths, so mentioned that there are in fact imaginary numbers, and the square root of minus one is i.  At the end of the lesson, one of my very bright and lovely students (the one who asked me if I’d had a good birthday and said very sincerely that she hoped I’d had a nice time) stayed behind when she could have been at break to show me her ‘maths dictionary’ and tell me that she couldn’t find ‘i’ anywhere in it (it only went up to GCSE level).  That enthusiasm for finding out more was so delightful and put a smile on my face.

It’s not all bad.  It’s definitely not all bad.

“You have the power to help people become winners”

~ Ken Blanchard.

^Well I’m definitely not there yet, but it’s something to aim for!

I’ve just finished week 2 of teaching, and what a fortnight it’s been.  There’s been ups and downs and mainly downs if I’m honest, but today has been a good day.  At 11:50, only 1 of my class of 26 eleven-year-olds knew that 4 + 5 x 4 was not 36, and by 12:50 I reckon most of them did, and they knew why.  We did a raffle-type game, where correct answers meant one more entry into the prize draw, and they were all working quickly and enthusiastically.  The 25 who did not get lucky and win the prize draw were gracious in defeat and clapped the winner (without being prompted), and many wished me a happy birthday as they left the classroom.  They made me feel like I was doing something right, and that couldn’t have come at a better time.

I’m finding my feet, one lesson at a time and sometimes I hate this job, but it turns out sometimes I love it too and that’s what I have to hold on for.