The MEGnitude of Change

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 28 2012


“Ms. Barnett, are you about to cry?”

Yes, I was emotional yesterday. But no, it wasn’t because of management issues or the mountain of paperwork awaiting me. Yesterday, I felt the weight of years of educational inequity in my classroom.

We always toss out the term “critical thinking” as a skill for students — the ability to process questions, determine what the answer needs to look like, and create a plan of attack to get from the question to the answer. I remember hearing that term for as long as I can remember. I had taken it for granted; I had always been taught to think this way.

Yesterday, as I asked my students simply to read the question and determine which formula to use (distance formula? midpoint?), some of them stared blankly back at me. They didn’t know where to begin — which formula to use? How to apply the numbers to that formula? Yesterday, I saw the gap in their education, where this basic thought process hadn’t been drilled deeply into their brains.

I have heard it dozens of times, but it wasn’t until this moment that I felt it so completely: my kids need a teacher with a vision. They need a leader in the classroom. They need someone with a clear plan of attack for their success. They need me.

Somewhere between trying new management techniques and crying on the phone to my mom (yep, it’s happened) and cheering like a crazy person at football previews and seeing the blank looks on their faces as they took their benchmark exams, my kids have stolen my heart. I care so much about my students. I want them to succeed — to be in a place where they can feel success on the football field and in the classroom; where they are able to play football because they are able to apply mathematical formulas effectively. I cannot wait to see their faces as they take the benchmark again, as they see how much they’ve grown over the course of the year. I cannot wait to see those “aha!” moments.

So, yesterday, I told them this. I did it. I got all emotional & passionate & gave them a speech about how much I care about them. Which brings us back to where we started: “Ms. Barnett, are you about to cry?”

No, I didn’t cry, but something lit up within me. As I said before, I have shed tears over the past month…mostly, they’ve been out of feelings of frustration or failure. I felt like something was dying. Yesterday, my emotion sparked something new. My kids need me, and I need them. We’re a team; we’re in this together.

Let’s go.

About this Blog

My journey in mathematics and beyond

High School

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