I have been putting a lot of thought into the impact teachers have on their students, positive and negative, especially at high school level. We are charged with teaching young adults in math, but we are really teaching them persistence and problem solving skills. We are looking out for their future - arming them with the skills to succeed.
So every week when I am planning lessons for my courses -- I sit back and remind myself that teachers are more than:
Spitters of facts
Demanders of facts
I work for the students (not the 16 year old but the 27 year old future adult) -- and what my time machine tells me is the 27 year old wants to make the 16 year old ready for the world.
That is why I talk truly about the skills the world needs. I worked for over a decade in a STEM capacity and never did Cramer's rule, simplified gigantic exponent expressions or graphed a hyperbola. But the skills of thinking and researching how to find an answer to a problem I did do. The skills of thinking and finding an answer I did use to graph a hyperbola.
So the what I am doing is important, but I am careful not to end on the slippery slope of saying Algebra 2 is real life skills by itself, for most students it is simply not true. That is why I am stuck on the "more than" thought today -- I am prepping students for more than ACT or college math with Algebra 2. I am making students who are able to not only do the basic facts to be successful in college math but also making them work on projects to make them prepared for their future.