It’s math time again! Each day this week I’ve been watching my students’ eyes glaze over while teaching. Last night, I stayed up late to plan out today’s difficult lesson. As I approach the board, I review my lesson again reminding myself to use the proper math terms when teaching this strategy. Then I think to myself about how this is going to be a tricky concept for most of my students.
Just like most days, I call on a student to read the word problem while I simultaneously use the SmartBoard to write on. While writing the problem on the board, I’m careful not to completely turn my back on my talkative class. As usual, I see a couple of students out of the corner of my eye whispering and I ask one of them to choose a different spot in the classroom so they are both successful.
Now back to teaching. I carefully explain the multi-step problem in stages. While doing this, I notice there is a vast sea of blank stares on the faces of my students. After putting some animation into this problem (which tired me out a bit), I look out and see many students blinking their eyes. With a little hesitation, Idecide to ask my class to show me if they understand the problem by putting their thumbs up or down. To my discontent, the majority of my class has thumbs down. At this point in time, I feel like a rambling teacher. Oh no! This is never my intention! So I decide to quickly finish the the last step in the problem and begin a new one.
During the new problem, I use different words with the same math vocabulary. As I scan the room, I see the struggle to understand the steps on the faces of my students. Then, I see a set of eyes grow big while the eyebrows raise up. Then he mouths the sound “Oh!” without saying a word! Then I actually hear “Oh!“ from another student across of the room! A feeling of fulfillment mixed in with relief comes over me. I just witnessed the glorious light bulb! This is the magical moment when a student understands a difficult concept.
There are many reasons why I went into teaching in spite of the many challenges. One of them is when I see the light bulb turn on in the mind of a student. I feel like I truly made a difference in a child’s future by instilling knowledge. As you reflect over the school year, embrace the light bulb as one of the many joys of teaching!
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