Oct 22, 2013

Ironic


When everything is stripped away, you find who you are at your core.  All of the roles I've filled in my journey as a mom up to this point have been guiding posts in my path of life.  The biggest role I played in my children's lives so far, besides being their mom, was being their teacher.  Since they've been born I've taught them every day.  Some days on purpose; other's just by example.  They are always watching, always learning, always processing and questioning.  And I'm learning right along with them.

Even though they are no longer under my tutelage at home, I am still their teacher.  Learning begins at home.  It's my job to teach them to do their best in everything.  It's my job to make sure they go above and beyond a task and not let them settle for "bare minimum".  It's still my job to ensure learning is fun, happening all the time and is the essence of our home life.  It's my job to set high standards for them to meet and then encourage them after achieving those rigorous standards.  Even though I no longer homeschool, I will never stop being a teacher.

That is both a problem and a good thing.  I still am what I always was but don't know what to be.  Does that even make sense???  I have lots of time to think now that there are no children at home most of the day.  And one of the things I think alot about is: what in the world am I supposed to do with all my free time?  I still need to be available to take Chloe to school and pick her up, so my window of available hours for any type of job is very small.  Plus, I've been the one in charge of my own curriculum, school, standards, methodology and timeframes for so many years now that it would be VERY hard to submit to someone else's.  The easiest solution for me is to volunteer.  I get to pick the hours, time, type of people and type of activity I enjoy doing.  Win/win.

I've found that even when I volunteer - it is to teach.  How ironic.  For the past two years I taught English and Math to immigrants and refugees.  This year I am helping tutor adults preparing to take the GED or other college-level placement tests.  I also read with remedial middle school students twice a week. And lastly, I volunteer with the 4th graders at Chloe's school doing an excelled readers book club. Notice a theme here?  Yep...reading.  I've known all along, yet am just figuring it out.  That is where my passion is, everything else about education and learning centers around reading at any and every age level!  Do you know how excited I am about this?  I found my niche.  It's been there all along, just staring me in the face.  The only difference is, now my eyes have been open to it and for the first time I can see it too.

But the ironic this is not this discovery.  The ironic thing is that I am cursed to teach math the rest of my life too.  Anyone who knew me growing up would know that I cried every day during math homework.  I really enjoyed algebra, but it just took me longer to 'get it' than the rest of human-kind. That is why I see my current teaching/tutoring situation as nothing short of a cruel practical joke.

Once a week I help out at the the GED classes sponsored by our county.  People come to get help in many areas.  The one lady I am currently working with is from Vietnam and is studying to take an Accuplacer test.  She wants to be an accountant.  She's very good at math but really struggles reading the English in all the math tests.  So I have been deemed the 'math teacher' of the group and work with all these struggling students.  Whoever dubbed me the math teacher has no idea that the highest level of math I took in college was Math For Elementary Ed majors (of which I miraculously received an A).

At the beginning we were just doing easy word problems.  Then the word problems started getting progressively harder and I would have to look at the answer page before I could explain how to do the problems.  Then the problems got so hard I didn't even know how to set the equation up.  That's when I begged to take the book home so I could study.  I got my own tutor - Gavin - to work with me on the finer points of algebra that I left somewhere back in the mid-90's when I was done with them.  And he is excited about helping me.   He'll ask me, "So what do you what help with?"  And I'm like, "I don't even get the title - 'What is an Inequality'?"  I have to admit, he is an excellent teacher.  He is patient and kind and doesn't ask the question, "exactly what don't you understand about all this?" like his mother used to.

What's even worse about my being his student is that while he's explaining something I find myself drifting off and thinking about exactly how I am going to blog about this little mother/son math role reversal teaching session.  I'm forming phrases and sentences in my head instead of staying focused and on task and really learning what inequalities are.  I even confessed to him my little mental stumbling block and like his father, he just smiled at me and said, "well how about we read that again then."  The patience of Job.

All this to say, life has a way of coming up behind you and kicking you in the butt and getting back at you.  But if that is the price to pay for also getting to read with all the precious people I meet, I take the butt-kick gladly.  I know how to laugh at myself and the irony of it all.  We all need something to keep up humble.  Math is my humble pie.
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