I never realized how daunting a classroom full of kids could be. Until I had to be the one with all the answers.
When we made the tough decision to transfer my son to a charter school, that meant he was no longer in a strictly sixth-grade classroom. The project-based model meant he’d be working with peers in a classroom of fourth through seventh graders. Which meant many levels of math I did not know how to help with, since I’m old school.
His teacher asked me one day if I’d be willing to volunteer in the classroom. I said yes, without hesitation. Then he asked me how good I was at math. Not wanting to sound like a complete idiot, because he knew I had a college degree, I agreed to coming in once a week to assist during the math hour. I’m not gonna lie. That day, a seed of panic was planted, and soon sprouted leaves. But I was determined to not let my FEAR of math stop me from helping out.
Fast forward to today. I showed up to help with with Common Core math and ended up feeling like…wait for it.. a dummy! It’s been a while since I’ve had to use fractions and I’ve always hated math story problems. I am definitely annoyed with the extra hoops Common Core has kids jumping through. Especially for kids like mine who have a hard enough time getting the basics down. But in my defense, his previous school did not encourage parent help with math homework, which pretty much left me out of the loop. Ever since this Common Core business started years ago, I’ve viewed its presence in a negative light.
So I get there and I slowly walk around the room looking for kids to help. I see two kids sitting there with blank stares and see this as my opportunity to jump in. They point to the problem in question and I get a sick feeling in my stomach.
So this is how my son feels every day during math!
Well…what do you do when you don’t understand the math problem either and you’re supposed to be the helpful adult? You sit down and have them explain what they think they are supposed to do while flipping to the back of the book for the answer. Aha! I found it! But now I have to explain how I got there, which is not so easy.
Luckily, there was math whiz mom there I could call upon for help. But that left me feeling dejected. What was I there for if not to help? I found a bit of solace in the fact that another mom volunteer asked me, not five minutes later, if I knew how to do seventh grade math. Not because I knew how, which obviously I didn’t, but because I was no longer the only mom stupified by Common Core math.