Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Favorite Student

My favorite student (this year) is someone who is not particularly quick at picking up math concepts. After she got the first test back, she cried. She came to see me everyday during lunch to go over a section of the test at a time. We did the corrections together, and then when she went home, she re-did the problems at home that we had worked on together earlier that day. It took us several days just to go through the entire test. And then, because she had worked so hard, I offered to give her a re-test not for grade, but just to see if she now knew the material. On the re-test, she made no conceptual mistakes, and only some arithmetic errors. When she went home and did corrections again (this time, unprompted), she thought the corrections were very easy.

This kid works so hard that when I announced that we were having a big exam in December, she came to me within a couple of days to start working on the topics that will be included. We sat down and made flashcards for strategies while approaching problems, and we did some practice problems and put them also on the flashcards. She has been reviewing the flashcards since at home, and she says that they are very helpful as a starting point to solving problems.

This favorite student of mine came to me yesterday after school to ask me to teach her long division, because all of her friends are able to divide 3 digit numbers by 2 digit numbers and she couldn't remember how to divide. I was running a fever when she came by after school yesterday and my body ached all over and I longed to go home, but hearing her question warmed my heart. Big time. She is my favorite kid because she isn't embarrassed to get help, and I know that some day she will master all of the skills that she lacks, if she can keep up that amazing spirit of hers.

That's my favorite type of student. Over the years, I have seen other students like her grow into excellent math students, who can connect the dots faster than anyone else and to work quickly through complex scenarios of problems. As a teacher, may I always remember to appreciate when a kid has the willingness for hard work, regardless of what they currently achieve.


  1. Mimi, I just loved this post, and I know the type of student you're describing. We thankfully have a few of them in English and the humanities as well! It is the most heart warming thing to meet those students who genuinely want to learn and grow, and I am sure that the environment you have created in and around class helped this student of yours feel welcomed and empowered. As a dancer, you know what they say about tango-ing...

  2. Right now my challenge is whether I can convince a parent to let me teach their Dyscalculic child the multiplication table without stressing the kid out, and whether I can then actually do it and have sustained success.

    One day at a time...