On our way to graduate book arts at Converse, Monday around 4pm, my 8 year old said, “I had to go see my teacher during recess and I’ll just go ahead and tell you the whole story so we won’t be bored while we drive…” (Its a 55 minute commute from Clover to Spartanburg, SC and God bless my professor for allowing a third grader to audit her studio class)…”I had to solve a math problem on the board, in front of the whole class, and I got it wrong.  I was trying to go fast, and I got confused…” (this teacher LOVES to give speed drills on various math facts, therefore multiplication timed tests have led my daughter to declare, and I quote, “math is my enemy!”), “well, she made me fix it! in front of everybody! …and then she wanted me to explain how I got my answer; but I didn’t speak loud enough…so she yelled at me and I cried.”  I shuddered. So, while I’m sure the teacher may have raised her voice a decible or two in exasperation, I doubt she yelled. Nevertheless, I have been reading a great book by Cathy L. Seeley, Faster Isn’t Smarter and I really wish I could put a copy in this teacher’s hand, with a post it note on pg. 93, which happens to be subtitled, “THE TRAP OF TIMED TESTS.”

I texted my principal this morning, asking to stay home from work, sick and she texted back, “U ok stay home” so I did and I really had to fight the urge to take day of sick leave as an opportunity to go confront my daughter’s teacher with my book and a few passages highlighted.

My husband, the paramedic, who I shall henceforth call husbamedic, is the rational one in the family.  He reminded me of the time a parent of one of my students brought me a brain map.  “You don’t want to be THAT mom, who comes in, telling the teacher how to teach, do you?” I laughed and replied, “As much as that mom got under my skin with the way she went about it, her efforts planted a seed.”  I reflected quietly on the fact that it was completely her influence that led me to read up on Eric Jensen’s brain based learning.  The spark she struck in me, led me to be a better mom to my own kids.  So I really grappled with whether or not to confront my daughter’s teacher.  Ultimately, I dragged my sick self to my daughter’s school to take pictures of her chorus performance and Valentine party (note, I’m not a photographer; I just have an overpriced camera) and I didn’t say one thing to her teacher.  Still debating whether to email her for a conference or just let it go…

4 thoughts on “For the Love of Math!

  1. As a HS teacher, I would absolutely recommend a conference with said teacher who likes speed drills. There can never be too much communication with parents, as long as the contact is done with a positive attitude, i.e. help the child. Learning is a teamwork effort between home and school and alas, too many parents don’t have the time or the interest. So go for it Audrey, it sure can’t hurt

  2. I always hated those timed multiplication tests. I didn’t understand as a child why I was extremely good at math when it came to every other situation, but when it came to the timed multiplication tests I was one of very few people in my class who never completed the test within the limit. Same goes for division.

    I hope your daughter realizes math doesn’t have to be her enemy just because timed multiplication tests suck! I know I’m only one example, but I continued to thrive in mathematics all the way through college despite doing poorly on timed multiplication tests in fourth grade. 🙂

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