Negative Dos

My calc kids learned the product and quotient rules today. At the end of the lecture, I gave them a table with various cells filled out and others not. It’s a bit of a puzzle to figure out, which I love. I usually have the kids spend a few minutes on it in class, and then we work the rest together.  But today I randomly decided to just give it to them and said that if they could figure it out by next week I’d give them extra credit points on their quiz. They were welcome to work with each other, just not with me. Most kids worked on it all hour. Not a lot of “homework” got started today. And I am a-ok with that. 


We have a kid in Intermediate who I think has seriously come to class like five times. And tomorrow marks the end of Week 5. So yeah, he averages about one day a week. Needless to say, he’s behind. Luckily for him, he’s very likeable and respectful.

Today I was trying to explain to him (what I feel is) a very basic algebraic concept. I was clearly getting nowhere. Finally, his friend interrupted (thank God) and took over for me in Spanish. 

I’m a biracial, bilingual immigrant. I get what it’s like to be an outsider. I get what it’s like not to understand a language as well as you think you should. I get the relief you feel when you hear words in the tongue with which you are most familiar. 

So, when these kids started talking math in Spanish, it was just the cutest thing to me. I didn’t want it to stop. They were clearly getting much further than I was. I kept hearing “Negative dos. Negative dos.” Oy. PRECIOUS. 

When the explanation came to an end, I said, “You two are just so cute,” at which they got very shy all of a sudden. I went to go grab them a calculator, and I heard Mr. Absentee whisper to his friend, “She so nice.”

Be still, my heart. 


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