“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul” ~Thomas Merton
I have been teaching for 16 years now. I am certified seven through twelfth grade math. From the beginning I had wanted to teacher seventh grade – the “kindergarten” of advanced mathematics. While I personally enjoy the topics of trigonometry and other advanced topics, I wanted to teach seventh grade because of the age group.
My goal was, and still remains, to give students the best introduction to the foundations of mathematics and for them to start out their mathematical studies with an interest and enthusiasm for the subject matter. In addition, I want them to develop confidence in their abilities.
My influence, however, I have found, is through all of the little life lessons that go on each and every day in every classroom everywhere. I came to this realization in a most unusual way. My daughters went through the same school district that I teach in. I taught many of their friends. When my daughter was in high school she was communicating with a friend through instant messenger. As they chatted he mentioned how he remembered having me in seventh grade. He then proceeded to prepare to tell her the thing he remembered most that I taught him. I was sitting in the next room waiting with bated breath as to what the important lesson would be. Then I heard the familiar “ring” of the incoming message.
Here was the “lesson”. “When you go to Taco Bell, always buy the small drink because you get free refills”. At the time, I was a fairly new teacher and I am not going to lie…..I was devastated. Since then, I have embraced that piece of knowledge and have now run with it.
Here are some of the ways I have used that realization:
- I plan lessons with personal relevance to their lives
- I use the interest of the students to engage them in learning
- Use a quote of the week
I have a large bank of quotes, many of which I got from brainyquote.com. Each Monday, I introduce the quote of the week, and have it posted in several places in the room. I read the quote, ask for their interpretation, and then give them mine. They truly look forward to this, and it gives me the opportunity to “plant something in their soul”.
Here are some examples:
“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
“The only place where success comes before hard work is in the dictionary” ~Vince Lombardi
“If you can dream it, you can do it” ~Walt Disney
“Opportunity does not knock, it presents itself when you beat down the door.” ~Kyle Chandler
I have affirmed for myself that the math content is not the most important learning that goes on in my classroom.