Really- We Don’t Bite

If my students don’t like their quiz grades, they can meet with me before school, after school, or during my free period to go over the quiz. Then they come in again and retake the quiz (new version, of course). A few have taken the offer. More are just coming in for general help every morning – which is a good thing.

A strange thing happened twice last week though. Students approached me about retaking a quiz on a Tuesday after school and I replied, Sure, but I have Math Team practice so you’ll have to come with me. Each of these students had a look of absolute horror on their face at the suggestion of walking into math team practice.

It happened again today, 8th period. When the student just stood there…looking aghast….unable to say anything, I said, Really, it’s O.K., we don’t bite. Another student said, Yes, but they’re nerds! Now, I have no problem being a nerd – it is something I’ve come to accept about myself and no longer try to hide. For some reason though, the third time wasn’t the charm, and I made a too quick reply – Yes, but where will those nerds be in twenty years?

Aside from the fact that I have to learn to control my smart-ass remarks better (which is an entire post or three of its own), this attitude really bothers me. Why is not O.K. to be smart? I’ve considered the possibility that it may be intimidating for a student who’s struggling to come in for help during that time. Would it be intimidating to take a quiz during practice? I don’t know, but I really don’t think that’s the reason. I think they think they’ll catch something from the math team.

Note: I regret, not so much the remark itself, but the implied message – so I’ll be apologizing tomorrow and discussing the situation with the class. I hope I didn’t miss a teachable moment. I’ve also just realized that my remark may have been a misguided attempt at defending one of the “nerdy math team students” who was in the room at the time. I apologize to him for trying to defend something that didn’t need defending in the first place.

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One Response to Really- We Don’t Bite

  1. mathmom says:

    I’d be interested to hear how the follow-up on that went.

    I wonder what the underlying source of discomfort was — that they didn’t want to be seen among and possibly mistaken for “nerds”, that they didn’t want the “nerds” to see that they had to (or were willing to) ask for help, or something else?

    Sorry, no sage advice here…

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