So I got that really wonderful email in my inbox last week, so of course I emailed this student back. I was insanely curious why s/he was taking Calculus in college. Most of the kids in my classes aren’t really interested in pursuing a science/engineering/math degree. So I asked why.
Hey Mr. Shah,
I’m glad my email could contribute to a better day I feel like that’s a very nice accomplishment. As for the why and how – I decided I had such a good time learning Calculus last year that I should continue taking it in college. I’m taking [course#] which is a basic Calc course […]. I’m actually really glad that I took Calc last year because sometimes the way my professor explains things makes concepts harder than they really are. We learned about continuity today and I was happy to see I remembered basically all of it. I think what we did last year was really good and I think you did a good job explaining things and making sure we really knew what we were doing. The addition of the youtube videos and things like using our fingers as slope meters helps make things more visual too. The sad thing about being in a college level class is it’s bigger and the professor goes much faster so you don’t always have those “a-ha” moments (or the time to appreciate them) that we had last year. I also told [other student from the class] about your email and he said he really misses our old class too and that he’s taking Calculus this year as well and it hardly compares.
Um, at least TWO of the students in that section of 7 are taking calculus in college? Really? SERIOUSLY? ZOMG! I kind of can’t stop smiling. Can I think of any better thank you than that?
No, no I really can’t.
Commence swelled chest.
(That feeling is actually fighting with my feelings of inadequacy and failure which I’m feeling now at the start of this year. It’s a strange place to be in. Like “I must have been good last year, so why am I doing not so hot this year?”
Sam, I have a hunch that many (most?) good teachers struggle with insecurity – that it helps us be good teachers. We know we haven’t found the golden key to doing it ‘right’, so we keep looking (outside ourselves) for resources, and inside ourselves for how to connect better with the students.
The insecurity is no fun, but it’s better than complacency.