Monday, August 02, 2010

Today is one of those muggy rainy dreary summer days. I decided to tackle more of the Algebra curriculum I will be teaching this fall. I usually don't mind teaching a new class, and actually, find the challenge exciting, but the prospect of THIS class gives me butterflies in my stomach.

It has been so long since I even thought about some of these concepts - weighted averages, quadratic equations, the boundary line of an inequality.... I am sure the information is all up there somewhere, but it's pretty rusty, dusty and cobweb covered. And.. I have NEVER taught any of these concepts.

I feel a strong sense of obligation to the particular group of students I will have as well. While having students for 2 years in a row will be fun, I know that this is the cream of the crop group, the upper cut, the college prep type kids. They will progress onto higher math classes both in high school as well as college, and this Algebra 1 class will be their foundation. I want to be sure I am giving them as solid a foundation as possible.

In high school, I LOVED algebra. I had Mrs. Carter for both Algebra 1 and 2 and loved her as well as the subject matter. Algebra was easy, straight-forward, black and white, pure and simple. I enjoyed all my classes, but algebra required no thought, nothing like reading and interpeting The Canterbury Tales, or memorizing the body parts of the frog we were to disect. Mrs. Carter showed us how to do it, I did it, and I aced the tests. I remember in particular the final exam in her Algebra 2 class. I had a perfect 100% going into the exam. I finished the exam in record time, breezing through the problems, wondering as always what was taking everyone else so long. Mrs. Carter smiled when I turned the paper in upside down on her desk, asking me if I wanted her to grade it right away. I shrugged and told her sure, but I was completely confident in my perfect paper. She poured over it, checking not only the answers but the steps of each problem, looking with her microscope eyes for errors. As she wrote the 100% on top, her smile told me she was as confident as I had been in my perfection.

Now, I am the teacher. I want to ask her how she did it. How did she make Algebra so easy, so simple, so straightforward? Can she give me her magic wand? Would she be surprised to find me at the front of an Algebra 1 classroom? Would she be proud?

But for now... back to the book, back to solving inequalities and creating graphs. I have to polish my memory so be ready for this group of young minds headed my way in a month!

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