While sitting in the middle of the campus square, at my placement, at a lunch table under canopy, I waited for P4 to finish so the math department chair could sign off on my student teacher contract. As I sat there, one student from P2, Manuel, walked by holding his scooter saying, “What’s up Mr. Math Teacher?”* I was genuinely pleased to see him and that he took the initiative to say hi. I asked him if he could ride his scooter so he jumped on it and scooted over to me. He said he was on his way home since he was not feeling well. I asked him how he was doing in class, Algebra 1, and he said fine. We chatted a bit more about him not feeling well then he took off for home.
Another student from P2, Jesus, walked by a few minutes later, looking my way and smiling at me but not saying anything; he is very shy. I shouted out “Hey, Jesus,” and he walked over to me. We chatted about bathroom passes, as he was holding one; I relayed to him an example I heard from my classroom instructor where a teacher used a toilet seat as the bathroom pass for his class, which we all thought was humiliating and inappropriate. Jesus did not like it either. I asked him how he was doing in Algebra 1 class, and he said “fine,” but also said he didn’t always do his work because it was too easy and bored him; he also added that he was lazy (which describes me as well in some ways). I asked him if he wanted us to make the problems harder for him and he said “not really” but when I asked if he liked word problems, he said, “Yes, if he knew how to do the problem.” He went on to mention that he liked problems about money since he could relate to it. I mentioned that I’d see how to spice up some problems for him.
These chance meetings today were both powerful and encouraging. Powerful in that it was the first time I made myself available outside of the classroom for random events to happen at my placement, such as these, and something happened! Encouraging in that I had hoped that I was establishing some trust with these students but they are so hard to read in class; they keep such a game face on, nearly unwilling to let it down while among their peers.
Another reason these meetings, today, were so great is that I had just discussed with my CT several candidate students to select for an in-depth case study, as required by my Adolescent Development class and Manuel was a preliminary selection, however further discussion with my CT is required.
Today ended up as a good day, indeed. Even more so since as I walked by the group of students I played handball with the other day, they asked if I wanted to play again. I declined and told them I was starving and would likely pass out. So one boy offered me his hamburger! That was very considerate of him but I passed. I did accept their offer to play again tomorrow. As I walked away they said “he’s cool” and asked if they could switch to my class. I said that was not possible, but we could chat about math over handball if they liked…no takers there though! 🙂
* Mr. Math Teacher is my pseudonym for my blog. Manuel and Jesus are also both pseudonyms.