It’s that time of the year in our school building.
The Third Quarter.
The Third Quarter is when shit gets real for 13 & 14 year olds.
Especially in math class.
It’s cold as hell up here in Michigan, things look bleak, there’s no end in sight………..and kids start getting lazy.
And as most teachers know, the job of a teacher is more than just x’s and o’s. Knowledge doesn’t mean shit. This world is full of knowledge. All knowledge does is get you a big dose of Google. You get your answer.
And you say: “So? Now what?”
So, it’s time to motivate my students. Time to inspire. Time to give these kiddos a life lesson.
It went a little something like this……………
“Class, this new unit is on Algebraic Reasoning. The second quarter is over. Simple topics like the Pythagorean Theorem and basic Exponential Equations are behind us.
And more difficult topics are on the horizon. The Order Of Operations. The Distributive Property. Solving for variables in multi-step equations.
You’re gonna struggle. I’m here to tell you —- this WILL happen.
So, you need to be ready.
And when you begin to struggle, you cannot shut down. You cannot waver. You cannot give up. You must keep trying.
You must keep trying SOMETHING.
And you must show your work.
IF you show your work and you keep a detailed log of what you’re doing, I can easily walk over to you and help. If you call me over and I see no work, I have no clue what you did wrong. I can’t fix an invisible problem.
And I know showing your work is annoying. It sucks.
But did you know, there are people in this class who show their work every day, to every problem, without me even saying a word? Without me harping on it?
Why do you think for some, showing your work is no big deal? Do you think some people actually enjoy showing their work?
No, of course not.
If they don’t enjoy it, then why do you think they do it?
If you think they do it because it will help their grade………….you’re wrong. That’s not why.
If you think they do it because a teacher told them to…………….wrong again. That’s not why, either.
If you think they do it because a parent is making them…………….probably not. I truly doubt it.
The people who show their work? Why do they show their work?
Because they’ve made it a habit.
At some point, they DID have a teacher, a parent, or SOMEONE who told them they should show all their work. And it likely sucked at first. It was probably a struggle. But they felt like they needed to keep going. To keep at it. To “get used to” showing their work.
And after a few weeks had passed, the struggle had all but disappeared.
And showing work, a task that some find so annoying, so insurmountable, and so difficult, that they will NEVER do it – all of a sudden…………….was easy.
These people have made showing their work a habit.
And when something is a habit, it ceases to suck.
You don’t wake up in the morning, pissed off because you have to shower and brush your teeth, do you? This act likely takes 20 minutes to complete. And why doesn’t it annoy us? It seems like a waste of time, right?
It doesn’t piss us off because we are used to doing it daily. It’s a habit.
And showing work in math class? You know how long that takes? Less than 30 seconds per problem.
It takes less time to just write the dang problem down than it does to try to calculate the answer in your head.
And I’m not saying showing work won’t suck at all………what I’m telling you is that the sucking will become less and less over time.
And after a month or so passes?
It will stop sucking.
Because habits never suck.
Habits make life easy.
So, get in the habit. Get in the habit today — of doing things which are no fun, but you KNOW are good for you.
Whether it’s homework, having a difficult conversation, eating healthier foods, talking to your parents……..whatever. Whatever is causing you issues or making your life more difficult, get in the habit of addressing the problem.
Become comfortable with being anxious. Become comfortable with being unsure. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
And start to build solid, healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
And when you start to make all those sucky things habits…….I promise you.
Your life will suck much, much less.”
The next day I asked them to take out their homework.
And half of them still didn’t do it.
Maybe you will get the message a bit better than a class full of hormone-filled 8th graders.
Yours in true health,