Here is a thank you note from the parents of a sophomore who took my AP Calculus AB course this past year. I appreciate notes from parents and students. They give great sustenance and help to rejuvenate my passion for teaching.
Dear Mr. Math Teacher,
I think yours was the first class in 11 years of education that finally actually challenged our daughter. Thank you for allowing her to struggle and to succeed. As parents, it’s a joy to see her rise to all the challenges that calculus presented to her. Thank you for teaching her this year, and helping her to believe in herself.
Happy summer to you and your family!
As a teacher, it is immensely difficult to challenge all students in a course, as they are quite diverse in ability and prerequisite understanding. Challenge to one set of students looks very different to other sets. Accomplishing this for all students without overwhelming any set, or individual student, requires a trial and error approach over time. I believe I am getting closer to being able to do so with my AP Calculus students. This summer, I have also done so for those students who will pass the accelerated algebra 1 course.
Unfortunately, I have not found it possible to teach all students in such a fashion that they all pass the course. This fact pains me, often. At the same time, it is very clear that I am but one factor in a student’s learning, and one that has limited leverage at that. Nonetheless, my hope is to activate students’ desire to succeed, or at least help them to find out what they need to succeed, which may entail significant remedial effort. Unfortunately, our “one-size-fits-all” approach to public education hinders much progress and must change before any discernible, sustainable improvements in educational outcomes occur. Of this, I am sure.