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!