OH MY GOD
So this is the “I might have news soon but I don’t want to jinx it yet” from my November list a few weeks ago. Wanna hear it?
I GET TO TEACH CALCULUS.
Yes, you read that correctly.
I. GET. TO. TEACH. CALCULUS.
It’s intro calc, but man, that’s all I need.
I’m a little bit hesitant to blog about this so soon after getting the news, as this means so much to me on so many different levels and I’m afraid that I won’t be able to express its meaning very well. But I guess the “personal” reasons are a little easier to express, so let’s start there.
I never really had an issue with math until 6th grade. I suppose I was decent at it; I didn’t really pay that much attention. I didn’t like it and I didn’t hate it, it was just something I had to do in school. But then I was put into the “advanced math” class in 6th grade (which was just two super smart n’ nerdy boys and myself doing 8th grade math in the janitor’s closet; yes, it was as weird as it sounds). I probably could have handled it had I been put in there at the start of the year, but they threw me in there like two-thirds of the way through the year and I had no idea what was going on. What was a variable? What was a parabola? I had no clue. And that made it so that I couldn’t keep up with the dudes and had to be put back into the “regular” math class.
Yeah, that wasn’t humiliating at all.
But that was the start of my struggles with math. It started to make me really nervous and I started to doubt my abilities. 7th grade math was a bit rough. Then, in 8th grade, I had to miss like a week and a half of classes due to my grandpa dying, and once I got back into things, I was once again lost in math. 9th grade wasn’t too bad (it was geometry and I was decent at it), but 10th grade was the worst. I didn’t like the class (algebra 2), I didn’t like the teacher, and I just dreaded the whole thing. By the middle of the year, I would literally break out in hives whenever I had to walk down the hall to go to that class. I never told anyone about that, but it definitely happened.
Needless to say, as soon as I was no longer required to take math (which was after that 10th grade class), I stopped. I took the minimal amount of math while I was getting my psych degree and it was only once I took the required intro stats course that I started to get into stats. But plain old math still scared me. Hell, even when I was getting my math degree, math scared me. I’d look at an equation and I’d get that nervous dread that always accompanied any dealings with math.
It’s really only been in the past few years that I’ve started to feel more comfortable with math. The comfort is not at all natural; it takes a lot of work to ignore that “oh my god I don’t know what these numbers and letters mean in this equation I am so stupid” feeling that I still get. But just knowing that I’ve gone from math causing me to break out in hives to being qualified to teach math gives me enough confidence to feel like I’ll be able to do this. If I can teach stats with the level of confidence that I currently can, surely I can do the same with math, right?
And hell, I think the fact that I’m not naturally a math person will be helpful for my students. I’m sure there will be a decent number of them who are dreading this calculus class and who are terrified that they won’t be able to understand things. I know what that feels like. I know how bad that feeling is. And I know that it’s important to be able to explain math to the “non-math” people so that they don’t feel stupid or feel like they’re being overwhelmed and can actually get something useful out of the class. And since I am a “non-math” person, I feel like I’ll be able to do that.
And that’s really important to me.