Afterward, Kindness.

Teachers had a uniquely difficult job today:  Support students who feel unsafe about the future of our country.  Do so with grace and humility while simultaneously dealing with our own feelings of uneasiness and hopelessness.

Based on what I hear my students say on a daily basis, it seems as though their views on the presidential race fell into one of four categories:  1.  Trump 2. Hillary 3.  Neither  4.  Indifferent.  This isn’t surprising for high school students in the far north suburbs but it seems important to note that my students’ views fall all over the political spectrum.

I began each of my classes today as I do at the beginning of each trimester:  You have my respect because you are a human.  My number one job is to keep you safe, and the most important thing that happens in this classroom is kindness.  

This isn’t anything new to them and it’s the culture we create in my classroom.

Then I pointed to this on my wall:

A gaping gash in the blue faux concrete. Many of them have never noticed it before but now their eyes are fixed on it.

This is where my “This is a safe zone” sign used to hang, I say.  When I painted the pillar, I had to remove it, and after sticking it back on, the adhesive wore out and it fell into the garbage without my knowledge.  But a wall with a sign doesn’t make this room any more safe. We create a culture of kindness and respect and use mathematics as a catalyst. THAT is what makes this a safe zone. 

We then had great conversations in both classes:  Spirals in college algebra, sampling bias in AP stats. But none of that matters if students don’t feel safe. As a teacher, I’ll do that every day as no part of my job is more important.  I’ll continue to fight for access to high level mathematics for all of our students and promote kindness in all of my classes. No one gets to vote on that but me.

 

4 Comments

  1. Hello! I’m a college student studying to be a Middle School or High School Math Teacher. One of my Math Education teachers encouraged us to start following Math Blogs to gain knowledge and insight for our future classrooms. I really appreciate this post because it takes away the focus from politics itself and shifts the focus to the topics of the day and the safety of the students. As a future math teacher myself, I am hoping to foster this type of environment in my classroom. Every student who walks through a classroom deserves the right to an education. I also really value you pointing out that there doesn’t need to be a sign hanging on a wall to show that the classroom is a safe zone. Overall, I really enjoyed this post about the classroom as a safe environment. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I am also a student planning on being a math teacher, and I agree with the person above. I’d like to use this way of thinking in my own classroom in the future. Do you have any advice to give in regards to diversity and inclusion?

  3. Pingback: Number Loving Beagle

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