Super Math Teacher

The thoughts of a middle school math teacher

Asking for help

on January 27, 2018

I always encourage my students to ask for help.  Most of the time, they just give up.  This week, however, I had to ask for help.

My students are working on solving systems of equations.  This week, I introduced the dreaded word problem.  As soon as students saw the problems, I immediately heard the moans and groans.  The  “I hate word problems.”  So we walked through the steps, using a template, courtesy of Sarah Carter at Math Equals Love (follow her blog if you don’t already!  She is amazing!!)

I gave my students an assignment, which they started in class.  I always work out my answer keys by hand, so that I can anticipate where students will struggle.  Sure enough, I ran into trouble.

Writing my equations for one problem, I could only come up with one equation.  When I did get a second equation, it gave a negative answer, which made no sense in the context of the problem.  So I emailed a friend back in the US, asking her for help.  She sent 2 equations.  I decided I would graph the system, in order to make sure of the solution.  I had 3 equations, which unfortunately did not have a single point of intersection……They had 3 points of intersection.

Knowing my students would struggle, I reached out for help from a former student.  Thai is taking Algebra 2 as a freshman, so I figured he could help.  after he made some fun of me (which I knew would happen), he gave me the correct equation.

The next class period, I told my students about what happened.  I wanted them to see the value of asking for help.  Hopefully, they will appreciate the fact that I showed them it was okay to ask for help.



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