Can I overshare for a post? Tell you all about my hubby for a beat (I promise I’ll make it relevant to you).
Mark volunteered to teach in the virtual school for his school board again this year. Mark is 100% teaching online classes all year. Many of his students have IEP‘s (Individual Education Plans). Online learning works for some of these students because it helps them manage their anxiety and have greater control of their environment.
He’s teaching all math. This is the first time in his 18 year history that he has done only math. Although he is qualified to teach both business and math, teaching every single course for the first time in a virtual environment is not easy.
Or is it?
Is it actually sometimes helpful to teach all new content because they have no habits to unlearn in this new medium?
So day one, in the grade 9 applied math class, he made it about something relevant instead of going over tens and hundreds and thousands etc, to gauge their baseline understanding.
He asked them: “How many of you have a job?”
Many of them did, so he asked: “Do you have a chequing or savings account?”
When some had never heard of chequing, he had an opportunity to explain it as not just a math lesson; he encouraged them to get some cheques to practice balancing their finances (AKA life lesson!)
Then he asked them to open up an app had found that allowed them to practice filling in cheques – the amount of money in numbers and writing (do you remember how at one time you didn’t know that 10,921 was written out ten thousand nine hundred twenty-one dollars? Look how far you’ve come!)
It can be intimidating for a student who has never written a cheque and isn’t fully financially aware. However, this app was a fun quiz-based format, and lots of people were celebrating as they began to learn how to do this. Plus, students are comfortable with it. Way more comfortable than if you just created a PowerPoint and did a screen share. (*yawn*)
Let’s teach some life skills to create greatness!
“Give me the name of a really cool car.” Of course, they said Lamborghini, and he said, “how about one that’s more affordable.” Somebody said, Tesla. “Open up AutoTrader and read off the price of a Tesla you see.” Some of the students struggled to put words to the number. However, this was a great opportunity to gently help them figure out how to verbally articulate a big number in a fun and low-pressure way.
They all got it in the end. In fact, it didn’t take long. Being curious and having fun distracted them from their anxiety in not understanding how to form the words for big numbers. In fact, how intimidated numbers can be actually leaked its way into the discussion. “Hum, really, tell me more about that?”
As they say in the solution-focused world, if it’s working, keep doing it.
So on Mark proded.
He asked: “OK, now go over to a website where you can see the price of houses. Pick a house that you like. Now tell us how much the house costs.”
Again, initially, some struggles in articulating a number in the six or seven digits… (It’s fascinating now how expensive their tastes are, LOL!) They got so into it that they began to articulate in words the cost of their dream houses. They moved on to looking at car payments and mortgage payments in other ways to articulate those numbers broken down into smaller units.
Why do I share this?
Well, other than to tell you that this is one of many reasons why I adore my husband of 23 years? Because it’s really about honouring and seeing greatness even when people are struggling.
Here is another key point:
When we are interested in what we’re learning, and those who mentor and teachers hold a space that we are great and have the potential for amazing things even if we don’t fully understand them yet, we are motivated learners.
I know what you’re thinking. “Yeah, I know that already.” However, how often do you feel you should do something, or you need to learn something, and it feels like a chore.
Could there be another way? A better way? Is there a way to learn, teach, and even mentor in a way that leverages interests, strengths, and passions?
We are all motivated teachers.
We sometimes forget what motivates us; however, it’s always there, ready for us to find it again.
Now, if I were to tell you a week ago my husband was pumped about this, I would say, honestly, no. He’s been able to play on his tractor all summer, doing some hardscaping for his rockstar wife and building a barn for a neighbour. He’s been playing. What kid wants to be called in for the dinner bell?
And…there’s nothing quite like purpose to ground you in your greatness.
Fun is fab. It can be fleeting when it’s not teamed with purpose. Having an impact does amazing things to fuel your soul. It fed my hubby’s.
Mark lit up when he was describing this class. He glowed (yes, my 52-year-old dad-jokes telling, tube-socks wearing, SNL-watching, embarrassing t-shirts wearing hubby glowed like Mariah Carey). He was that proud of his students.
Even when not two weeks ago he was playing in the dirt, he looks forward to logging on to see how much more these students can not just learn, can overcome. He raves to me about how quickly, literally in the space of only a few hours, across the digital divide, full of nerves at the start of school, can turn onto math. Why is it so exciting? Because it’s not about the math. It’s about what math can do for the kids’ wellbeing, confidence and sense of competence.
The teacher could focus on the bigger picture too.
Rather than being stressed out, frustrated, and blaming others for why they weren’t better prepared, they creatively found a way to explore a basic math topic. In this headspace, it became easier for the teacher and the students to forget that they were stuck on MSTeams on a nice day.
Unexpected gifts come in all sizes.
Because Mark‘s students happened to have been given the gift of a business turned math teacher, there was a practical financial management lens. And of course, this is not just for any single group of teachers…anyone who teaches to what resonates for the learner has more success and greater joy personally, too!
When we can connect on the level of what is most meaningful, we can stay engaged with whatever we’re trying to learn, overcome, explore, and innovate.
Math in disguise! It’s actually the groundwork for financial proficiency! (*Insert evil genius laugh here.*)
Is there a situation where you are trying to mentor, teach, coach or guide somebody struggling with the unfamiliar or new? What is a context or lens that could help bridge understanding? And how might we recognize the greatness, holding the faith for them until they get to fuel the development and growth process?
Before you go…do this:
Do you know a mentor, teacher, leader, or professor who sees every student or new team member as greatness? Click on the image and send it to a teacher to let them know how grateful you are for what they do. They probably think they’re just doing their job. When I actually think what they’re doing is creating possibilities that they could never imagine.
For other ways to find greatness, check out these previous resources: