Saturday, September 1, 2012

Why Do You Teach Math?

For the 3rd week of the Math Bloggers initiation I will write about why I decided to teach middle school math.  In a way I feel like I am taking the easy way out, I would love to write about my favorite math problem or misconceptions, but when I sit down to write I keep drawing a blank.

Anyway, my story is kind of interesting.  I am not the type of teacher who knew since she was a little girl that I wanted to teach.  I kind of discovered it 16 years after I graduated high school.  However, I guess my story starts back in high school.

9th grade Algebra to be exact.  My parents had just divorced and I moved with my dad to a new town and new school.  I was not the model student in any of my classes, but Algebra 1 was a disgrace.  I failed miserably and ended up in "business math" for 10th and 11th grade.  Luckily for me, only 3 years of math were needed back in the 80's to graduate and somehow they counted my failed Algebra class as one of them.  Due to my mediocre job in HS, I didn't have much hope for college.  I ended up trying a basic math class at the community college but dropped out.

Fast forward 16 years, I was married, had two kids and was a stay at home mom.  Over the years I worked as a secretary, bank teller, mortgage loan servicer and an inside sales rep.  I knew it was time for a career, not just a job.  My sister and I brainstormed what I could do, what I might be good at.  At the time I was also the leader of my daughter's Girl Scout Troop.  My sis said that I would probably like to teach since I LOVED leading my daughters troop.  As soon as she said it I thought to myself "Wow!  She's right!!!"  So I marched my 32 year old butt down to the community college and signed up!  I didn't know what I wanted to teach at the time, I just figured I would get all of my core classes taken care of and think about it later.
The more mature, experienced me thrived in college.  I was a 4.0 student and found that I loved my math classes!!!  When it was time to really decide what my major would be and what I wanted to teach two things influenced me to choose math.  First of all I love a challenge.  Since I always "sucked" at math, that was what I was drawn to.  When I realized that I could actually be good at it, thanks to some good teachers I thought, "Imagine helping kids who weren't naturally good at math to like it and do well!" I thought that sounded like the best thing ever! Secondly, I was OLD, I had to choose a major that would help me get a job when I graduated, which I calculated to be when I was 40 years old!  So math it was :)

It has so far been exactly what I imagined.  The hardest job I've ever had but certainly the most rewarding (besides being a parent of course!)  I can totally relate to my students who think they are bad at math, and am still in awe of the one who it comes naturally for.  I make sure that both are encouraged and nurtured to push themselves farther than they think they can go!


  1. Hey now, who are you calling old at 40?!! Oh, but that is old, huh. Well, I'm about 28, so I wouldn't know. I love this post, Robin, thank you for your candor. I was a Biology major and went into teaching only because I was afraid my <4.0 GPA would not be good enough for medical school so I didn't even bother to apply. However, I've always loved math, so it's good to hear of your different background and what led you to this most wonderful profession!

    "I make sure that both are encouraged and nurtured to push themselves farther than they think they can go!" We all need to do this!

    Thank you, Robin, and this week I get to feature your post at my blog

    Happy blogging! Fawn

  2. Thank you Fawn! This blogging initiation has been a great experience!

  3. You have an awesome 'how I became a math teacher story' - by the way, I'm also trying to implement a lot of similar changes this year in my class to what I've read about on your blog (see for my list if you like) - sounds like it might be going a little better for you - I'm going to be keeping an eye on your progress as it might help me solve a few of my problems ... I'm up to "F" on trying to get caught up on reader (it's hectic between trying to follow the other new bloggers and start of school), so now I'm glad your blog title was in the first part of the alphabet!