It was 2 weeks before preplanning. Like most teachers, I can’t wait until preplanning to unstack desks, clean out manipulative containers, and get the room organized or it would not be ready by open house. So with my one year old in stoe, I headed to the school. I was rather productive, considering my son was trying to eat most of the math manipulatives. I went through about 30 containers of manipulatives and got them sorted, organized, and labeled. I, of course, had to take a picture to show my husband all my hard work.
Later that day I was looking at the picture and thought, “I have a Master’s degree in Mathematics Education and I spent hours organizing counters for no pay.” Pride started to set in. While looking for a birthday gift for my husband, I talked to the owner of a local store and he was talking about a woman friend of his and made the comment, “And she’s really smart. She’s an engineer.” How many times is that said of teachers? How many of your friends have said, “Well, she can handle that; she’s really smart, after all she teaches second grade”? Patience. I get, “Wow. You must have lots of patience. That’s such a fun age!” But never, “Wow. You must have worked really hard for your graduate degrees!”
So, I started researching other jobs. I read about different types of engineers, applied mathematics jobs, and actuaries. I researched what it would take to be an actuary and if changing careers to engineering and actuary science would be something achievable in your 30s. When my husband came home, I told him my plan of going back to school, after all I LOVE being a student and learning, and how I would make drastically more money. He asked if I hated teaching that much. I told him no, that I love my job and love my school, but I had been organizing counters all day with a graduate degree. Had he seen my last paycheck? He told me it sounded like I wanted to change jobs because of pride and I needed to pray about it.
Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Yes, it was pride. I know I was meant to teach. One of my goals is to help change the way the United States thinks about math. My heart breaks every time I hear, “I hate math” and I want to change that. It was then that I remembered an activity my students did the last week of school in May. I put chart paper around the room labeled, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Mrs. Sutton. They had to go around and write something they learned about each category. I got the basic stuff for Science and Social Studies…frog life cycle, water cycle, planting beans, MLK Jr, Creek and Cherokee, etc. I was expecting the same for math, but this is what I got:
You can tell we had just finished arrays as an introduction to multiplication, but there were also comments such as:
Math is cool. Math can be easy. It is fun to learn math. Math is cool and funny.
My goal is starting to be reached, one student at a time. I will not be changing jobs. I will continue what I’ve started, trying to enstill a sense of love for mathematics in children through non-traditional methods.