On my standards

I had a conversation with a school parent today that, on the surface, was a really nice conversation: I let her kid finish up a test at home last night, and made sure she knew about it, and (for the record, I believe this) she watched him do it and he ended up doing a really good job. He made a seriously boneheaded mistake in class that led to him missing every single question, and I hate situations like that; you effectively made one mistake, you just made it twelve times and it’s not fair that that leads to a zero, a score that doesn’t reflect your understanding of the material.

Anyway, I figured that rather than waste time in class today taking it again he could just redo it at home. His mom works at the school and I let her know what was up, and she came to talk to me before school started to let me know how he’d done.

During the conversation she told me that she and her son both thought that I was the best math teacher he’d ever had. Which is nice to hear, right? It’s hard to imagine a better compliment as a teacher. But then she explained why.

“He says that he asks you questions, and you answer them, and then he figures out what he’s supposed to do.”

Which, like … is it unfair or ungrateful of me to hear that and wonder what the hell the rest of his teachers are doing? Because that really sounds like a fairly basic description of my actual job duties to me. Does he have teachers who won’t answer questions? Because that’s bad. Like, real bad. If we were having a conversation about me going above and beyond somehow to help the kid out that would be one thing, but I really feel like “you answer the questions he asks” is not exactly champion territory, y’know?

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Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.

One thought on “On my standards

  1. I had a “maths” teacher who knew one way to explain things. I struggle with maths and didn’t grasp what I was supposed to do. When asked she’d repeat what she’d already said exactly as she said it, and because I still didn’t get it I’d ask again. In the end, she just ignored me when I put my hand up until I stopped asking for help.
    If it weren’t for GCSE bitesize revision, I’d have flunked that class. As it was I put in a class where the highest grade I could achieve was a C. I achieved it.

    She did look sheepish when I got that grade. She knew it wasn’t because of her.
    So yes; having a teacher that answers your questions in a way that enables you to work out what to do on your own is a very good thing.


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