Thursday, March 18, 2010

Asking for Help

I'm still recovering from that thing that kept me from working for a couple weeks. So, last night when I got home from school I came home and crashed. It wasn't that it was a difficult day, it was just that my full energy hasn't returned yet. That and the time change have left me a little weak.

Yesterday was similar to Tuesday. First thing in the afternoon, I was in charge of the students who had not finished the CAHSEE. Instead of six students overwriting their essay, I had two students struggling with the second section of the math test.

Both students were girls, and both of them were well-known to me. I prepared to sit back and relax (and stay out of their way as they finished up the test), but I was not to be so lucky. One of the girls needed help.

"The problem doesn't say whether to add, subtract, multiply, or divide. It has to be one of those. If the dimensions are ____ by ____, how do I find the area?"

I walked over. I glanced at the problem as she proceeded to multiply the two numbers. All the while she was wailing that her answer wouldn't be one of the choices. She got an answer, and sure enough, it was one of the choices.

"Is that right?" she asked.

In my most neutral tone, I told her to do what she thought was correct. Apparently my bland tone was bland enough, for she then complained that she wasn't sure what she should do. I walked away.

"I wish I could help you," I told her, "but this is the CAHSEE. I can't help you."

For the next couple minutes, the girl attempted to get help from me by explaining that I could help her. No one would know. She wasn't going to tell on me.

The problem with this is that I would know, and I would not be able to live with myself. It would have been cheating. But I knew that that explanation was not going to satisfy the girl. So, I repeated that she needed to pass the test on her own, and that I was confident that she could.

Then the room went silent and she went back to her test. It took her a lot less time to finish up than I thought it would. Oh, she complained a bit more. She wailed about having to guess. She wondered if she was reading the questions correctly. But she made progress.

I wish they would ask me for help in the classes when they're learning this stuff. That's when I can help them.

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