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Ups and Downs

written Saturday, 2/18/2006

Dangit, can I just have two good weeks in a row?

Last week wasn’t even fantastic, but it ended with feelings of progress and optimism. This week was quite the opposite.

I spent most of it fighting off a sore throat and slight fatigue, so I’ll blame my physical condition for initiating the sour mood that quickly developed. In addition to that though, the students were generally whinier and even less motivated than usual. Could it be because a holiday is coming up? Will next week – the last before Mardi Gras – be even more futile?

Almost every lesson felt like a waste of time. A lunchtime tutoring session exemplified my exasperation. One senior from my Geometry class was stumped by the question “How many yards long is this yardstick?” I asked a girl from my Algebra 2 class to evaluate the fraction 3/1. It was supposed to be a gimme question. As I pointed to the fraction, I asked “So, what’s three over one? (Pause) How do we simplify this? Remember, this fraction means three divided by one. (Pause) How many times does the number one go into three? (Pause)” Finally she reached for a calculator.

The whining. The heads laid down on desks. The blank stares. The outright refusals to pay attention or do any work. The inabilities to do elementary-level math computations. It all got to me this week, and I reached a point of not caring anymore. Unfortunately, I’m sure it was evident in my teaching too.

It was some comfort to hear two other math teachers complain of similar struggles this week. Both reassured me that this year is worse than normal, especially for a first year teacher. If I had an eject button, I probably would have pressed it this week. Hopefully next week the mood will swing back up in the positive direction.