So the tiny blond firstyear in my maths class will be represented by Chiyo from Azumanga Daioh. Chiyo started the year hoping I was a friendly teacher and gradually got disenchanted with maths, because it seemed hard. I have been working on boosting her self-confidence and last week I was fighting an uphill struggle.
The kids had to do a standard test: form-filling on a computer. Schools buy in these things as a metric, a way of judging the progress the children make in a year. The trouble is that many of them are badly made and inevitably you end up giving a test to children that is about things they have not learned yet. That is a bad thing. That is a way to crush a child's confidence without any academic value added.
Chiyo cried bitterly during the test, so I wrote a note for her to take home that said in strong terms that the test she had taken was no reflection on her abilities and hard work. It was a dumb test, but the whole class had to take it. That cheered her up a bit and this last week she has been putting up her hand and giving a lot of good answers. I have been giving her a bunch of air-time and sometimes turning to her when someone else did not know the answer: "Well I think Chiyo knows. What do you think the answer is Chiyo?"
So today she was asking about a problem with angles and as I sat down next to her I said: "I think you can actually solve this one. So when I work it with you, I bet you need to boop your own nose because you actually already know how to solve these." Chiyo looked at me seriously and agreed to my terms. We worked it and it dawned on her.
I raised an eyebrow and she solemnly booped her nose.
I finished up with "I think you are pretty good at maths Chiyo, but sometimes you get a bit uncertain. Good work."
My day is good.