Next year I am transitioning to a new prep at my school and will be teaching freshmen Algebra I and Geometry. For the past five years, plus a year as an intern during my master’s program, I have been teaching sophomore Algebra II and Geometry. So, after knowing I was going to move to a new team, a new prep, and a new age of students, I was honestly a bit nervous. One main reason I was nervous was because I knew taking on Algebra I meant taking on the STAAR test. I knew that added pressure on both me and my students would make this year a lot different, and while I don’t want my students to feel pressured, the test is inevitable and I want to help them be successful in the best way I can. Thoughts have raced through my mind this summer about the new prep, but after this weekend I am more excited than ever.
So, this weekend a few of my friends and I traveled to Dallas for a girl’s weekend. On Friday night as we were just sitting around talking, one of my friends posed the following simple, yet very thought provoking, question: if we were to all gather back together in one year, what do we hope to have accomplished? After I shared some of my hopes in my personal life, I said that I hoped I could say that 100% of my Algebra I students passed STAAR. After saying it out loud, that previously mentioned nervous feeling tried to sneak in…I started thinking is that too lofty of a goal, what if it doesn’t happen, was the passing standard even going to be the same this year, should I take it back and say I hope most of my students pass, etc.?! But, I didn’t take it back and I didn’t change my goal. I continued on with it to my friends as I said, why would I hope for something like 95% or 98% passing?! How could I look at my class and hope “Johnny” passed but not “Kelly”?! How could I give up on the kid who claims they are bad at math, or the student who is too shy to ask questions in class, or the one who passed with a 70 every year before, the one who struggles, the one who comes to tutoring, or the one who doesn’t? I can’t and won’t give up on any of them. As I was telling my friends this, I knew my students were the ones that should hear it. I want my future students to know we are in it together and my goal should not be a secret to them. I want them to know my goal leaves no student out. I want them to know that I will celebrate successes with them and help them learn from the mistakes. I want them to know that I will never give up on them and in turn, I hope that they never give up on themselves. I want them to be confident in their growth as mathematicians rather than judge themselves on their initial understanding. I want them to know that although their scores on state testing does not define them as mathematical scholars, I will be working every day to help each of them pass with 100% of my effort. I can’t wait to tell them this on the first day of school!
I am excited for next year, for new challenges, new adventures, and to start the year off with a goal that encompasses every student, every day. Although I will miss my sophomore team, my sophomore students, and my sophomore content, I am excited for freshmen students, an inspiring freshmen team, and the confidence that my thoughts of nervousness have been replaced by pure excitement.