My mother reminded me the other morning of how odd it is that I now spend many of my working hours tutoring algebra students. I think her exact words were something to the effect of. “You used to hate math!”
It reminded me of something that happened not long after I graduated from college. An old friend from middle school and high school showed up about two weeks after graduation. He took my then-fiancé and me out to dinner, and in the course of conversation he asked me what degree I had just received. I told him I was now a certified math teacher, and he nearly ran off the road because he was laughing so hard.
My now-ex couldn’t understand why the guy was laughing. As far as he knew, I was great at math. I had even helped him with math that was three levels above my highest level of math. My friend quickly explained my lovely history with math. I failed algebra. In fact, this particular friend had been asked by the teacher to tutor me because I did so poorly in algebra.
Somewhere in the summer between geometry and algebra II, something clicked and math became something I could do. I made it all the way through calculus AP in high school, and then went on to be the only A in my college algebra class because my professor was not the smartest cookie in the world. (I also earned the utter hatred of my classmates with the only 100 in trig. Because of my perfect scores, the teacher refused to curve the grades.)
Now, I teach algebra students. When they get frustrated and tell me they’ll never be able to figure out algebra, I tell them about my own sordid past with math. It makes them feel better, and usually relaxes them enough to get through their assignments and to do them well!