Monday, December 10, 2012

I suck today

Pardon me for a minute while I vent...
I feel like I suck today.

When kids in my class don't learn I take it personally.  I take it as a sign that I'm not doing everything I can.  I feel like I'm not doing a good job of explaining and making things clear or that I'm not making the concept simple enough.  And I'm not talking about the kids that are lazy or irresponsible.  I'm talking about the ones that really just don't get it.  The ones that no matter how many times I explain it, there's still just something not clicking for them.  The ones that try so hard to go through the motions of what I'm saying but are still making mistakes because they don't really get it.  They sit there with me wearing a look of uncertainty, a look I know well by now.  And I just want SO badly to help these kids to understand it.  I watch them get frustrated and when they say they just aren't smart it breaks my heart.  Every. single. time.  I go home and it's all I can think about.  I try to research ways to reach different types of learners in the hopes that I'll find the answer or some new strategy to try.  I look through remediation programs and different hands on activities to try.  I think and think and think about where the disconnect might be and how to make things click.  I think about how great these kids are and how all I want is for them to not be frustrated anymore.  And when I try and try and try and it still doesn't work for them it makes me sad and feel like I'm not doing my job.  I should be helping these kids make sense of things and I can't.  I'm trying and it's just not working.  I don't think my job is to just stand up in front of a room and deliver a lesson to those that want to listen.  My job is to make sure that my kids understand math.  Every single one of them, no matter what or how long it takes.  And when they don't get it I don't blame them, I blame myself.  It think means I'm not doing a good enough job and it feels like I'm failing them.  I know I probably shouldn't take it so personally, but I just can't help it.

So today I feel like I suck.  But I have a plan for tomorrow and some more new things to try so I guess that's all I can do right now.


  1. I've been reading your blog for a while now, and it is abundantly clear that you work extremely hard to help you kids and are passionate and talented at your job. But sometimes the disconnect (or likely multiple disconnects) have happened a long time ago. I've been involved in Numeracy initiatives in the last few years at my school, and the more I look into it, the more I realise where our problems start. I can't believe that these kids who don't understand place value and count on their fingers are trying to learn decimals, fractions, algebra, financial mathematics... *sigh*
    Short response: You don't suck. I am sure your plans for tomorrow will turn out brilliantly.

  2. Hi Sarah
    I have been following your blog from the other side of the ocean (I come from South Africa) for a while as well. I find that reading the stuff that you do in your classroom really helps me to be creative and yet practical in mine.

    I believe that teaching Maths is one of the hardest jobs in the world because some kids struggle so much to understand and it is so hard to watch. We all do our best to help them as much as we can. If you didn't feel responsible, you wouldn't be such a great teacher!

    I just wanted to thank you for having such a great blog. I have drawn so much inspiration from you.

    I also wanted to ask you whether you had any great ideas for assessment. I am so bored of written tests!

    Thanks a million.

  3. Hi Sarah,
    I am right there with you - I teach the lowest of the low in 5th and 6th grades, and it IS heartbreaking to see them try so hard and just not have concepts that seem so simple to me, make sense to them. I almost felt like I had written your post! But, we keep trying different ways, and occasionally we get rewarded with a "light bulb" moment and it all seems worthwhile. I am just so very thankful, that I have wonderful teachers like you and so many, who blog and share their ideas and suggestions - and yes, their struggles. It helps me to know that even fantastic teachers whom I admire, have bad days sometimes.

    I look forward to hearing about tomorrow's plans,
    Another Sarah

  4. You are such a great teacher and full of wonderful ideas. Think about the successes from this year compared to failures. My guess is that you have way more successes because of your work ethic and all the great things I get to read about :). Thank you for sharing your ideas AND struggles. Remember, all you can do every day is your best (which you clearly already do).

    P.S. I'm sharing your ISN prezi tomorrow, your blog has laid it out very clearly to me how I would like to set it up!


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