On  Friday, a few of my grade 10 classes began the new unit on “nth roots.” My “lesson planning” currently consists of getting orders from my co-teachers on what they expect me/us (?) to cover the next lesson, me taking pictures of the related work pages, subsequently decoding these work pages which are all in Russian via an online Russian keyboard, and then translating them via google translate.  The process looks something like this:

Step 1: Obtain photos of the exercises my co-teachers would like to cover for the next lesson.

Believe me, I am not exaggerating when I say that these are all to be covered within one forty minute lesson. Oh, and have I mentioned that the curriculum here is about a trillion times more advanced than the Canadian one? Units covered in the grade 10 math curriculum include sequences (okay, so far so good), nth roots (seems alright, until you see what types of questions the students are expected to solve), properties of functions (don’t see this until gr. 11 in Canadian curriculum), vectors and equations of a line and circle (gr. 12), reciprocal functions (gr. 11/12), trigonometric functions (gr. 11/12), probability (at grade level), modelling mathematics (11), transformations of shapes (11/12), combinations (12), and finally, logarithmic and exponential functions (11/12). My first reaction was shock and awe, and I think those are still accurate descriptors for how I feel now.

Step 2: Convert questions to an electronic format.

Typing out the questions via an online Russian keyboard.

Step 3: Copy and paste Russian text into Google translate. Pray that the translation is comprehensible.

Okay, I’m guessing that’s the Russian to English translated version of “evaluate.”

Step 4: Do the work! –> Understand it! –> Master it!

Sometime in the distant future: Actually plan the lesson!

Teaching is a deeply humbling pursuit. No matter how much I think I know, I discover that there is always more to learn. Sometimes I feel silly taking notes in class while my co-teacher is teaching. Sometimes I think I hear them making fun in their native language. But I persist anyway. I am here for the students and I will put in my best effort, even if it means looking “stupid” in front of the kids. I want to show them that it is okay to struggle and that everyone will at least once in a while. I am not just here to teach Math, I am here to teach the students. Besides learning a bit of math, I hope that my students learn the skills of patience (because math has a reputation of creating short-tempered monsters), persistence (do the work, and the payoff will come), and that mistakes are okay (life is messy)!