Over my break so far, I've read some great books: The End of Molasses Classes by Ron Clark, The Excellent 11 by Ron Clark, and Teach With Your Heart by Erin Gruwell.
Now I know that these are out of the ordinary teachers. The books made me laugh, cry, and get angry. Parts of them inspired me, parts of them made me want to quit. But what bothered me the most was...I couldn't relate.
I loved reading about how Erin Gruwell used pop culture to engage students in reading and writing. I loved how Ron Clark took his students on life changing field trips that related to what they were studying in history. But how does this apply to teaching math?
I can never think of ways to incorporate new ideas into what I teach. I can read something on the Internet, find a new iPad app, hear something at a conference, and immediately think of how it would work beautifully in English or Social Studies. I never know how to make things work for math.
I don't know how to relate math to real life. It doesn't relate. They will never use this stuff in real life. I sure don't. How will learning systems of equations help them deal with their problems at home? How will graphing parabolas help them avoid drama? How will using the distance formula help them face their fears and overcome obstacles and become amazing people? How can math be life changing?
I know I sound like one of my own whiny students, but I can't help it. These are emotions that I face time and again. I am not inspired by math, why should they be? Am I teaching the wrong subject?
How is it that I put in all this time and feel like I am killing myself and yet still only accomplishing a fraction of what other teachers are doing? We can't even use experience as an excuse. Erin Gruwell started doing crazy things even in her student teaching.
I'm not having a pity party or saying I suck. I'm saying that mentally, I cannot wrap my head around bringing math to life, relating it to the world, planning field trips around math, or making it inspiring.
I don't know how to be that person.
That frustrates me because I feel like I can't learn. And not being able to learn just upsets me to the very core of my being. I am a professional learner! I may suck at things but I can always learn how to be better. And now, I can't.
I don't know how to learn this.