Summer is here and the heat is unbearable in Texas. My latest contract ended successfully and I rejoined the ranks of the unemployed. Somehow, registering for a class makes me feel like I am doing something worthwhile despite being unemployed.
As an older student, I get to developmental math classes. Lucky me, I never had algebra in high school. Why they agreed to move out of the class I'll never know and, even if I'd had the class, I'm not sure I would have retained it.
In community college,
they break these math classes into 3 courses and, at University, it's
typically two courses. I tried the math course at a University and failed miserably despite spending 65 hours in the tutoring
lab. It was so defeating to try so hard
and achieve nothing. I failed at relationships, but never school. So, when I took the course at community college, it was a
very different experience.
I attribute success in that first math course which I took a second time to the teacher. Her calm demeanor and confidence let you know you would do well.. and everyone in the class passed! Riding the wave of "wow, I can do this" I registered for the second of three developmental math classes.
I'd even been chosen for a grant program on the math class where I'd be in class 4 hours a night. Unfortunately, I arrived and realized the description was misleading. For the average student, I think they would have given it a try. For this girl, my fear caused me to bolt. I quickly contacted the Dean to transfer into a lecture course. Whew, I got in.
I was delighted to see 2 people from the last math course. Yeah! Friendly faces. I don't care how old you are, school is scary sometimes. I've learned that many of the younger students like to ask questions they aren't interested in because they think it impresses the teacher. I find this rather telling. It's interesting listening to the questions sometimes. Sometimes it's not.
Summer classes are a crash course at 4 nights a week and usually 2 or 3 hours a night. One cannot afford to miss a night or skimp on homework if you want a decent grade. If you're just trying to pass, your dedication will show in your grades.... or not. I am always trying to make an A because if I don't do well I figure I'll at least make a B. I can live with a B. I'm not happy about it, but I can live with one. And this is the nature of older students. We care that we are actually learning the material and we want to make good grades. Older students also "buddy" better in the classes. Plenty of younger students do this, but they tend to wait until the middle of the class to discover that help is a good thing for everyone.
I found myself doing superbly the first few nights of the class. I also found that the teacher simply read out of the book and did a few practice problems. He was calm and confident, but unconcerned with providing the foundational information and showing us the mathematical form in contrast to the english form of problems. I realized my unemployment was actually benefiting me because this class was requiring extensive study time. I started out doing an hour of homework a day and wound up doing 2 to 6 hours a day plus weekends. It was mentally draining. And we had an exam every week plus a quiz every other day on top of the hours of homework. My stress level was very high and I began to wonder what my average looked like.
Little did I know that there was a particular view in the homework software that showed your cumulative average. By the time I found it, we had 2 days left of class. The software had it's own set of glitches which we learned has alot to do with how the teacher sets up the software (or doesn't). By the time the last week arrived, we were all exhausted with the schedule. I prepared for the final and stopped by the tutoring lab to refresh myself on a few concepts. I had even found a great math video site (www.khanacademy.org) to surf for that additional lecture to reinforce things or explain what I didn't grasp in class or with the software tools. I was determined to grasp this subject even I made a B. I am not bragging when I say I want an A, it's a standard I set for myself, then I learned that better grades = more grant money... plus scholarships may find you.
I was ready for this class to be over even if I made a B. Then, the software cut us off prematurely! We all panicked. The software was logging us off and blocking logins and marking answers wrong that you hadn't even done. The teacher gave us some additional time to finish our last assignments, which we graciously accepted. I turned in my final review and we even got some extra credit for having done it and carrying a monster calculator that most of us don't know how to use. It was D-Day... or perhaps E-Day. Final Exam time.
I took my test and about 2/3 of the class was still there when I left. We expected our grades on Saturday, which came and went as did Sunday and Monday... no grades. I planned on doing extra assignments online to improve my grade, but even that wasn't possible because once again the teacher had marked the entire class to expire so we could not see our grades or do any extra credit work, which caused a few students not to be able to complete the last homework. Several us emailed each other wondering about the software and the teacher and our grades. Nothing...
And I'm up late blogging and decide to check my email and see a note from the professor that he'd send around midnight on Monday saying our grades were finally posted. I logged in the college site eager to see my grade only to see "site down for regularly scheduled maintenance". Mercy sakes alive! The next day, we all got our grades and to my surprise and delight... I made an A.
Needless to say, I did not sign up for the third math course during summer. We shall see what the fall semester brings. I just keep saying amidst my frustration "I will have you math, you will not have me"!