Sunday, June 16, 2013

Relief Vs. Disappointment and What Other People Think of Me.

The other day my son couldn't decide between two different toys that he wanted to buy with his report card money.  I took both of them, hid them behind my back, and told his to pick one of my hands.  When he did, I showed him the toy and asked if he felt relieved or disappointed.  He was disappointed and then knew exactly which toy to purchase.

This happened to me a few weeks ago.  We are starting a Freshman Academy in our district next year and I have been selected to be one of the math teachers that teaches 3 freshman classes (Algebra 1A and CP Algebra 1).  When my department chair asked what other courses I wanted to round out my schedule, I didn't hesitate and told him Algebra 1B.  He looked at me and asked if wanted Pre-Calc or Trig.  Nope, I love Algebra 1B.  Are you sure?  Yes.  Right then I felt relief not disappointment.

Why have I been teaching these classes that I don't even like for the past 13 years??  Then I figured it out.  I taught them to impress other people.  It especially happens at math conferences.  One of the first questions you ask other teachers is what level of math they teach.  And there's a corresponding level of respect that follows.  It seems as though 'bad' or new teachers are 'punished' with the lower lever courses.  You have to work your way up the ranks in order to earn the right to teach the higher levels.  So all this time I've been worried that other people would think I'm a bad teacher if I only taught Algebra 1.  But who gives a flip?!?!?  I have been sacrificing my happiness to impress other people and this shows a lack of maturity on my part.

When I see you at the next NCTM conference and you ask what courses I teach, I will confidently tell you Algebra 1!


  1. I love teaching Algebra. It's one of the reasons I decided to move to middle school. Then I could never be asked to teach those courses that make me unhappy...although it looks like Geometry might be coming at me soon. :(

  2. I am so with you! I am constantly asked when am I going to start teaching pre-calc or higher classes, but I LOVE teaching Algebra 1 and the younger high school students. I have no desire to ever teach a calculus class and there shouldn't be anything wrong with that!

  3. I came across your blog today and I love it! I am a new teacher, well almost - I am scheduled to start student-teaching in January. This post was an inspiration for many reasons but made me think why we strive so hard to please others? Great blog!